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2019 World Cup Preview: Thailand

Against all odds.

Thailand v United States Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Thailand had enough points to make it out of the group stage in 2015, beating Ivory Coast and ending up with three points. Unfortunately their goal differential was -7 because they suffered 4-0 losses to both Germany and Norway, and they were the fifth best third place team. This time around doesn’t look to be much different, I’m afraid.

The Team

This roster features just one player who plays outside of Thailand, goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao, who plays for her college team, Kennesaw State.

How They’ve Fared

This is Thailand’s second World Cup. They failed to make it out of the group stage in 2015.

How They Qualified

Thailand had the fortune of avoiding Australia, Japan, and South Korea in the group stage of the 2018 Asian Cup, as they were drawn with China, Philippines, and Jordan. They finished second in the group behind China, qualifying them for the World Cup. They went on to go out in the semifinals to Australia.

Group

F, with the United States, Chile, and Sweden.

Player You Know

You are highly unlikely to have seen Orathai Srimanee anywhere but in the 2015 World Cup, where the 30-year-old scored two of her country’s three goals in the tournament in the group stage win against Ivory Coast. She has just one goal this year, the third of four Thailand goals in a 4-0 win over Hungary in the Cyprus Cup in February. Goal scoring is not her thing, but she scored the first World Cup goal ever for her country, and that is memorable.

Player You’ll Know Soon

It’s more likely that we’ll see Kanjana Sungngoen scoring this tournament than Srimanee. Sungngoen is a 32-year-old forward that scored four goals in World Cup qualifying. With 16 goals in 56 international appearances, I’d bet that it’s Sungngoen that gets on the score sheet first for Thailand.

World Cup Outlook

This is an unfortunate draw for Thailand. Their best hope is to finish third and do well enough to get in as a third place team behind the United States and Sweden. Thailand tested themselves this year with games against other World Cup teams like Italy, Nigeria, and France, but they lost 4-1, 3-0, and 3-0 respectively, and threw in a 6-1 loss to Belgium in their last warm-up friendly, and that aforementioned 4-0 win over Hungary is their only win since July 2018. They should focus on beating Chile in the final group stage game, because that’s their only hope of advancing.