Thailand’s national football team fired head coach Alexandre Polking on Wednesday, following a rocky start to their 2026 World Cup qualification campaign.
After his team lost 2-1 to China last week, a 3-1 triumph over Singapore on Tuesday was insufficient to save the Brazilian-German’s career.
Masatada Ishii, former manager of Kashima Antlers and Omiya Ardija in the J-League, will take charge of Thailand’s national men’s football team. according to team authorities.
Ishii, 56, will become Thailand’s second Japanese head coach, succeeding Akira Nishino, who served for two years beginning in July 2019.
Thailand’s national football team is currently second in their group, trailing leaders South Korea, in the second round of Asian qualification for the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Thailand and Japan will play a friendly match at Tokyo’s National Stadium on January 1, 2024.
In the 2016 season, Ishii led Kashima to the J-League top division and the Emperor’s Cup. Following his dismissal from Kashima in the middle of the season in 2017, Ishii went on to coach Omiya as well as Thai clubs Samut Prakan City and Buriram United.
Italy’s football champions secures Euro 2024 place
Italy, the reigning football champions, sealed their place in Euro 2024 on Monday after a tense goalless draw against Ukraine in their final qualifier, while the Czech Republic and Slovenia also qualified.
Italy simply needed a draw in a game played at Leverkusen, Germany, to qualify, but a defeat against their Group C rivals would have forced them to compete in play-offs next March.
That was a scenario they badly wanted to avoid after the agony of failing to qualify for the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 after losing in play-offs, either side of winning the previous European Championship in 2021.
The stakes were high, and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had to produce a powerful hand low down to keep away an early Georgiy Sudakov shot.
However, Luciano Spalletti’s side threatened at the other end, with Anatoliy Trubin of Ukraine saving from Nicolo Barella and racing out to deny Davide Frattesi before the half-hour mark.
In the 65th minute, Donnarumma blocked a Mykhailo Mudryk shot, and there was a flashpoint in stoppage time when the Ukraine winger went down in the Italy box under a Bryan Cristante challenge, but no penalty was awarded.
The two countries end in Group C tied on 14 points with England, but Italy has the stronger head-to-head record, having triumphed 2-1 in Milan in September.
“We are overjoyed. After all of our troubles, we will be in Germany, and we will be there as reigning champions, determined to win,” Donnarumma told Italian television Rai 1.
If Ukraine is to return to Germany for the championship next June, they must first negotiate the play-offs.
When asked about the late penalty call, Ukraine coach Serhiy Rebrov stated at the post-match press conference, “From my point of view, that was a penalty, but again, I was not there, and it’s only about my emotions.”