Polking takes charge of Thailand ahead of AFF Suzuki Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers

With eight years of experience coaching in the Thai League 1, Alexandre 'Mano' Polking has now been handed the reins of the Thailand national team. Pakawich Damrongkiattisak/Getty Images

Thailand have appointed Alexandre Polking as the new head coach of their national team, replacing Japanese tactician Akira Nishino who was sacked in July following a disappointing campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

45-year-old Polking, popularly known as 'Mano', is well-versed in Thai football having spent eight years in the Thai League coaching the likes of Army United, Suphanburi and Bangkok United -- the latter whom he guided to runner-up finishes in the league twice and FA Cup once.

The German has also previously held the post of assistant coach with the War Elephants between 2012 and 2013 under then-manager Winfried Schafer, who he had also linked up with at United Arab Emirates' Al Ain and Azerbaijani outfit FC Baku since 2008.

After ending his six-year stint at Bangkok United in October 2020, Polking moved across the borders to Vietnam where he took charge of 2019 V.League runners-up Ho Chi Minh City FC. However, he left the club after the 2021 season in the country was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polking's first major engagement with Thailand is slated to be the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup which will be held from Dec. 5, 2021, to Jan. 1, 2022. The Thais are in Group A of the showpiece regional event alongside Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore, as well as one of Brunei Darussalam or Timor-Leste.

After their exit from the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers under former Japan manager Nishino, Thailand will also be in action in the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers that will feature 24 nations who will fight for the 11 remaining slots in the continental championship starting February 2022.