Mano Nhouvannasak - Exclusive interview with the new Khon Kaen FC signing

Off the pitch - Interview

At Lao National stadium
courtesy of Mano

Mano Nhouvannasak is one of the new signings from Thai Premier League freshman Khon Kaen FC. He was signed together with two Chinese players Lee Yang and Lee Chieng. All are young and perspective players. Mano granted us an exclusive interview which you can read below.

Sometimes it took short, sometimes it took longer until you find your way into the Thai Premier League. Mano Nhouvannasak did it in a relatively short time. He grew up in Cologne (Germany) and he is the second son of his parents, both are Laotians, out of three. His father was a national player for Laos in the 70's and played football for K. Diegem Sport in Belgiums second tier.

Mano himself played in his youth for Fortuna Cologne and Alemannia Aachen in the German Youth Bundesliga. For his vocational education he stepped down from playing high level football and was kicking for GW Brauweiler (6th tier in Germany) when he got a call from the Lao Football Federation and everything kicked off.
Mano, you are one of the new signings from Khon Kaen FC. What is your position?
Mano: I am able to play on the outsides, as defender and winger. But I prefer to play as a right back. Did you ever played this position, in the youth as well?
Mano: In the youth I nearly played all positions except as a goalkeeper. I am really flexible. How does it happen, somebody playing in the 6th tier of Germany was discovered by the Lao FA?
Mano: The football in Laos was in a change after the shameful performance during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2008. They started to scout players with Laotian roots in foreign countries and tried to bring in more professionalism. They invested a lot. When you have been to Laos for the first time?
Mano: February 2009. It was the first time for me to be there and everything was new to me. Laos is the country of your parents, so what did you feel? Did you liked it immediately?
Mano: Even though it was the first time for me in Laos, it felt like coming home. Not like being there for the first time more like I never went away. The feeling was totally different than just flying over to Spain for holidays. However, to adopt to tropical climate was a big challenge at the beginning. Have you been there alone? What about the language, do you speak Lao?
Mano: I travelled to Laos with my brother. My Lao wasn't that good, but it improved day by day. For the time being you came to Laos just for the National team, right?
Mano: Thats true. Just a day after my arrival I went to train with the National team.

" ...he was so hungry, full of energy. "

(Mano about Alfred Riedl) For how long you have been there?
Mano: Until November 2009, right before the SEA-Games in Vientiane. That time you trained under coach Alfred Riedl. Eventually you have not been selected for the final SEA-Games squad as he told us. I assume you were very angry.
Mano: Definitely I was. They told me that my pass port will not be done in time. For me it was like a kick in the teeth. A day before I was dreaming how it may feel to play in front of our supporters even at new national stadium. Than it turned out like that. 10 month of hard work, for nothing. I trained very hard and I was ready to go all the way. For most of the people, dreaming to become a pro footballer, there is nothing bigger than to play for your country. And so is for me. Nevertheless, I crossed my fingers for the lads. In the meantime I do have my passport and I hope to be part of the 2011 SEA-Games squad.

Mano wearing the Lao Kit
courtesy of Mano Your are really enthused about Alfred Riedl like you told us on many occasions. What makes him that special or outstanding in your opinion?
Mano: As a player you really like it when a coach is having a clear strategy and implement it consistently. Riedl was a perfectionist in all ways. He really gave the football in Laos a big push. When he started, a few were shaking their heads about his tone and manner. But soon everybody knew how is. He treated everybody equal. I think in some ways we all won experience and quality. It is really too bad he couldn't extend his contract....he was so hungry, full of energy. ...and in this age! (Riedl was 60 that time, Red.)
Mano: Yes, I couldn't believe my eyes. He wasn't that kind of a mercenary you usually find somewhere. He was a real good coach, always able to look somebody into the eyes and very straight. I improved a lot under his reign. I found that great and it made me proud a bit. However, you had to went back home to Germany empty-handed. Suddenly you been back to Laos, playing for MTPC FC. Why was that?
Mano: First of all, desperately I wanted to go back home. I missed my family and my friends. I spent two month at home and it was balm for the soul. I am an open minded guy and I was without a club when the MTPC FC president gave me a call. It sounded interesting and we agreed. At the beginning of February 2010 I returned to Laos and prepared for the season. At MTPC FC you played together with Lamnao Singtho. Virtually the Teeratep Winothai of Laos. Did you had you an immediate understanding and what kind of a guy is he?
Mano: I knew Lamnao from the National squad already. Especially for me as a new arrival he was very important and he offered his help. I told him a lot about Germany and he told me a lot about his experience in the Thai Premier League. He is a nice bloke and an ambitious player with super star status in Laos. Which impression you got from the Thai League after you were talking about? You already played a few preparation matches in Thailand with Laos and both countries are not really known for being friends?!
Mano: (is laughing) I personally take it with humour like with the rivalry in Germany between Cologne and Dusseldorf. However back then I did not know so much about football in Asia. Over in Europe you mostly hear something about the J-League or K-League. But nothing about the other leagues. Over the past years I was able to see a lot and learn a lot and I have to admit that I was surprised indeed. You should come here before judging the football in this area. Lamnao told me that football is very popular in Thailand and the Thai Premier League is booming. Thais are crazy about football with great supporters and with one of the best leagues in Southeast Asia. Besides him, Peter Laeng also told me a lot about the Thai League. Personally, where you would the rank the football in Laos and Thailand compared to Germany?
Mano: ....Vietnam also? ..yes..
Mano: The style of play is different. It took me a while to adopt. I know that everybody here is hardworking in practise. Physically the players are not that strong compared to Europe. Although they are able to compensate it with speed and strong technical skills. Surely there are deficits in tactic but I would say that Top clubs from Thailand and Vietnam would be able to play in the 3rd tier of Germany. Overall I believe that the Asian football is on a good way. Last year already you have been in contact with several Thai Premier League Clubs. Why it doesn't happened at the end?
Mano: I was totally disappointed after the setback right before the SEA-Games and just wanted to go back home. Nevertheless I knew I am still young and all doors still open for me. Now, in the end it happened sooner than later and you will play for Khon Kaen FC in the Thai Premier League next season. How does it happened?
Mano: Often I was in the City for shopping and I really liked the city (it is just about 3 hours from Vientianne to Khon Kaen, Red). To be honest, I didn't knew that Khon Kaen was playing in the Thai Premier League Division 1 League. I started to collect information about the club and I found out that they are in the hunt for promotion. Later on I got the chance for a trial and I had a closer look at the club. I liked what I saw and so the one came to the other. ....from where you got the information about Khon Kaen FC?
Mano: from Actually you are in Thailand, so what are do doing?
Mano: I moved into a nice hotel next to the training pitch and I will live here for the next six month. I will try to learn Thai as soon as possible and I hope to mature to a personality. At the moment I train with the under-20 and played some friendly already. Honestly I hardly can wait to train with the first eleven.

" To play against such big clubs like Muang Thong, Buriram-PEA, Bangkok Glass or Chonburi is a big challenge " What is your impression about the club?
Mano: My first impression was that the club has a very familiar atmosphere. I received a warm welcome from the responsible people and everybody is taking care of me. I think the club is on a real good way and able to establish themselves midterm in the Thai Premier League
Also the fan-scene is very likeable. Their yellow and black flags remind me of the Aachener Tivoli (the Stadium of Alemania Aachen, Red.). I hope we will be able to make our fans happy during the next season. What are you looking for the most in the Thai Premier League?
Mano: I look forward to play against strong players like Ludovick, Cleiton da Silva or even Datsakorn and  to be able to show what I can do. To play against such big clubs like Muang Thong, Buriram-PEA, Bangkok Glass or Chonburi is a big challenge but I take it with self confidence. It will be a very long season but I think I can make it. Especially, are you looking forward to play against Peter Laeng next year?
Mano: Needless to say. We are in close contact and I am particularly looking forward to it. Unfortunately we couldn't clash during the AFF Suzuki Cup, so I hope for the next season in the Thai Premier League.

With his training kit
courtesy of Mano At the end of our interview, a few private questions. Most important for the female fans, are you single?
Mano: Yes, at the mmoment I am single. What are your hobbies?
Mano: Listen Music, travelling, fitness and having great food. Which kind of music you like to listen?
Mano: At the moment I listen a lot of hip hop but usually to all kind of music, except Techno. Which is your favourite club?
Mano: Bayern Munich Ha? How that?
Mano: Surely. But you are from Cologne?!
Mano: I never had any sympathies for Cologne FC. Moreover I was in the youth squads of Fortuna Cologne and Alemannia Aachen. But your heart is beating for the city?
Mano: Of course, the Cologne Cathedral, the Rhine.... Any role models?
Mano: Zinedine Zidane of course and on my position I like to watch Dani Alves. Zidane? We had that already during our interview with Joe Khambour. So the same questions goes to you. Why you like him? You like to hand out clouts?
Mano: Materazzi deserved it or not? (laughing) No, to be seriously, Zidane was my role model when I was a small kid and I admired his tricks watching him in TV. His ball handling and his talent are legendary. What do you consider as your strengths?
Mano: I think I am flexible, hard-running, good positional play and  Kombinationssicher. Nevertheless, I need to improve my skills in many areas if I like to achieve something. I need to work at my weaknesses. I am still very young and there should be plenty of room to improve. Grown up in Cologne, your parents are Laotians, now you are living in Thailand. How about the food? What do you like the most?
Mano: Thai food is really one of my favourite. I love it, and I already spotted some good restaurants here in the city.

We like to thank Mano very much for his time, and we like to wish him all the best for the upcoming 2011 season.
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