Former Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang takes over at Port FC
Former Thailand head coach Kiatisuk "Zico" Senamuang's short break from football is over as he embraces a new challenge by joining Thai League (T1) side Port FC.
Kiatiasuk takes over from Jadet Meelarp, with the Port Lions sitting in a very respectable eighth spot in the league following promotion last year.
The legendary striker resigned from his post with the national side in March. Back-to-back defeats to Saudi Arabia and Japan in World Cup qualifying left the Thais bottom of the group, with just one point from seven games.
However, this came after almost three years of sustained success as Kiatisuk led the Thais to consecutive AFF Suzuki Cup titles, and to the final round of World Cup qualifying for only the second time in their history.
Zico oversaw the development of many of Thailand's best young talent as head coach of the Southeast Asians (SEA) Games-winning Under-23 squad in 2013. The likes of Chanathip Songkrasin, Theerathon Bunmathan, Kawin Thamsatchanan and Tanaboon Kesarat all featured in Thailand's triumph in Myanmar, along with many other players who have since become regulars for the senior side.
Serbia's former Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac has stepped into Zico's shoes at national level, overseeing a 1-1 draw against United Arab Emirates in his first game in charge on June 13.
At Port FC, Zico will be reunited with winger Pakorn Prempak, who was also involved in the 2013 victory that saw Kiatisuk's coaching career reignited after a difficult start.
Spells with the likes of Chonburi, Bangkok FC and Vietnam's Hoang Anh Gia Lai all failed to bring the kind of success he had enjoyed as a player, prompting him to join the national setup, which he reinvigorated with a talented set of young players and an attacking style of football.
Kiatisuk returns to club football after being linked with several vacancies since his departure from the national side. He will hope to lift his new club towards the top five as the ambitious Bangkok-based outfit aims to build on a solid first half of the season.
As well as Pakorn, he can count on former U23 internationals like Siwakorn Jakkuprasart in midfield and Nitipong Selanon at full-back, while veteran striker Tana Chanabut was a regular in Kiatisuk's squads for the senior team.
Port also boast the talents of classy Spanish defender David Rochela and prolific Brazilian striker Josimar Rodrigues.
It will be interesting to see if the presence of the new head coach can lure any new players to the club before the mid-season transfer window closes at the end of the month.
Sunday evening sees Kiatisuk's first match in charge at Port as they take on Mano Polking's free-scoring Bangkok United at the PAT Stadium. Kiatisuk and Polking have recently been studying together on the AFC Pro Diploma, so they know each other well.
The arrival of a national hero should certainly put a couple of thousand on the gate for the game as Port FC aim to put last weekend's disappointing 2-0 defeat at Suphanburi firmly behind them.
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