Former Liverpool forward Florent Sinama Pongolle extends Thailand deal
Former Liverpool striker Florent Sinama Pongolle has given relegated Chainat a huge lift by committing to two more years with the club as they bid to get back into the Premier League of Thailand (PLT) at the first time of asking.
The Frenchman's time with the Hornbills has been hugely successful and he scored 12 times after arriving in Thailand in July of this year. Unfortunately, his goals weren't enough to save Chainat from relegation. The decision to end the season early due to the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej denied Sinama Pongolle's side the opportunity to lift themselves out of the bottom three in the final three games.
With just five points separating 17th-placed Chainat and 11th-placed Nakhon Ratchasima, the Hornbills certainly had more than a fighting chance of survival. They were arguably the hardest hit by the premature end to the PLT campaign as they lost their place in the league they had played in for five consecutive seasons.
But the extension of Sinama Pongolle's contract is a clear statement that the club do not intend to stay in Division One for long. And the striker hinted at his ambitions when he announced the new deal via his Twitter account, stating, "Can't wait to do great and winning things with this club!"
The first priority will be to score the goals that help his team to win the Division One title in 2017 and take Chainat back to the PLT.
Sinama Pongolle remains best known for the time he spent at Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. The 32-year-old is fondly remembered for his role in sparking a Reds' comeback in a vital Champions League tie at home to Olympiacos in 2004.
He netted the equaliser as a substitute as Liverpool went onto win 3-1 and eventually win the tournament that season. His exploits that night were enough to earn him a place on the wall of Anfield's new main stand in celebration of historic nights at the stadium.
It may not be the Champions League, but Sinama Pongolle is writing a new Asian chapter in his career and is determined to ensure there is a happy ending.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK