Thai Premier League may not need Singapore players - Therdsak Chaiman

Don't expect to be inundated with offers from Thai clubs, despite a new rule to open up spots for Southeast Asian players in the Premier League of Thailand (PLT) next season.

That's the message to hopeful Singapore players from Therdsak Chaiman, the former S.League favourite who is now player-manager with PLT side, Chonburi.

Last week, the Thai Football Association announced that all its TPL and Division 1 clubs will be allowed to register up to five non-Thai players, including one ASEAN import, starting in the 2017 season.

Therdsak, who spent six successful seasons with Warriors FC [previously known as Singapore Armed Forces], was quick to send a reality check.

"[Singaporean players] have to show that they are good enough to play in Thailand," he told the Straits Times.

"We will look for players who are better than the Thais."

Thailand are the reigning AFF Suzuki Cup champions, and strong favourites to win their fifth title later this year. That's despite also being occupied by the final round of 2018 AFC World Cup qualifying.

Currently, Army United goalkeeper Hassan Sunny is the only Singaporean player in the TPL. He echoed Therdsak's message, despite tipping his international teammates Safuwan Baharudin and Hariss Harun as potential imports to Thailand last week.

"To be honest, it's going to be tough for Singaporeans to come over," he said. "I don't think you will see the bulk of them moving over.

"It's a good ruling for ASEAN as a whole but it might not be that beneficial for Singaporeans."

Therdsak won five S.League titles and two Singapore Cups, while earning 75 international caps. Incredibly, he is still registered as a player with Chonburi at the age of 42.

In his managerial role, he is mindful of the need of Thai clubs to spend wisely, rather than taking a punt on Singaporean players, unless they were proven superstars.

"If not, it would be better for us to use young Thai players," he added. "We can then save the money to buy new players."

Former English Premier League forwards Sinama Florent Pongolle (Chainat) and Xisco (Muang Thong United) are plying their trade in the TPL this season.