Watanya steps down as boss of U23 team

Res­ig­na­tion in line with FAT pol­icy to do away with man­agers’ po­si­tion


>> Watanya Won­gopasi has re­signed as the na­tional U23 team man­ager to al­low the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Thai­land (FAT) to pur­sue its pol­icy of bring­ing an end to the tra­di­tion of ap­point­ing non-tech­ni­cal of­fi­cials to the helm of the coun­try’s squads.

Watanya served as the man­ager of the Thai team which re­cently qual­i­fied for the fi­nal stages of the AFC U23 Cham­pi­onship in China.

She also man­aged the team when they re­tained their ti­tle at last month’s 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, which was re­stricted to play­ers aged un­der 22.

Af­fec­tion­ately called “Madame Dear” by the Thai press, Watanya an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion at a press con­fer­ence which fol­lowed a 40-minute long meet­ing with FAT pres­i­dent Pol Gen Somyot Poom­pun­muang at the as­so­ci­a­tion’s head­quar­ters yes­ter­day.

Somyot lauded Watanya’s con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try.

He said: “I would like to thank Khun Dear [her nick­name] for her time and hard work.

“She never dis­ap­pointed the FAT dur­ing her time as the team man­ager.

“Her ap­point­ment — and that of team coach Wor­ra­woot Sri­maka — was crit­i­cised by many se­nior peo­ple in the Thai foot­ball cir­cles who lacked con­fi­dence in their abil­ity.

“But in the end, we did win the SEA Games gold medal and made the Thai peo­ple happy.

“I have been vin­di­cated as hav­ing cho­sen the right peo­ple, and that my faith in them wasn’t mis­placed.

“To­day, Khun Dear has con­firmed to me that she agrees with the FAT’s pol­icy of not ap­point­ing any team man­agers in the fu­ture and has there­fore de­cided to step down from the U23 team man­ager po­si­tion for the AFC U23 Cham­pi­onship next year.

“This is not the end of her ca­reer in foot­ball as I am sure we will be work­ing to­gether again in the fu­ture.”

Watanya said: “It was an hon­our for me to be ap­pointed the man­ager of a very tal­ented squad.

“For the past one year, I worked very hard as the team man­ager. We had a good re­la­tion­ship among mem­bers of the team.

“The FAT has a clear pol­icy in de­vel­op­ing the fu­ture teams, so I thought it’s in the best in­ter­est of ev­ery­one in­volved that I should re­sign and let the as­so­ci­a­tion con­tinue its work with­out any prob­lems.

“Al­though I am no longer the team man­ager, I will still go to the AFC Asian U23 Cham­pi­onship in China next year and give moral sup­port to the squad.

“We have all been to­gether for a long time so those fam­ily-like ties still ex­ist. I would love to see these play­ers be­come suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture.”

Watanya was ap­pointed as the man­ager of the U23 squad last year and worked to­gether with team coach Wor­ra­woot.

Dur­ing Watanya’s reign, the U23 team won the Na­tions Cup in Malaysia and Dubai Cup in the UAE last year, qual­i­fied for the fi­nals of the AFC U23 Cham­pi­onship in China next year, and suc­cess­fully de­fended their SEA Games ti­tle in Malaysia last month.

Thai foot­ball chief Somyot Poom­pun­muang gives Watanya Won­gopasi a bou­quet of flow­ers yes­ter­day.

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