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Thai coach unruffled by tough Fifa Women’s World Cup draw

FOOTBALL: Thailand have been drawn in a tough group, which includes defending champions the United States, for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup first round battles, but their coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian is seeing it as a good turn of events for the Chaba Kaew.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 10 December 2018, 10:20AM

Thailand are drawn in the toughest group and will face defending champions USA in their first match for the Women’s World Cup in France on June 11.

Thailand are drawn in the toughest group and will face defending champions USA in their first match for the Women’s World Cup in France on June 11.

The official draw for the final stages of the tournament took place in Paris on Saturday night (Dec 8) and Thailand were placed in Group F along with the US, European giants Sweden and first-timers Chile.

The final stage of the Women's World Cup will be played in France from June 7-July 7.

The No.1-ranked Americans have landed in the same group with world No.9 Sweden for the sixth time overall and they face Thailand in their first game on June 11 in Reims.

Thailand, who are one of the four teams from Asia-Oceania zone to reach the finals, will next face Sweden in Nice on June 16 and their last round-robin stage game will be against Chile on June 20 in Rennes.

Nuengrutai, who helped the Chaba Kaew to become the first Thai football team to qualify for a World Cup finals, said after the draw on Saturday night that the tournament in France will be another “great opportunity to learn” for the team.

“I am not worried,” said the Thai coach, “because playing against such strong teams can only expedite our transition to the next level in women’s football.

“This time, we are again in a group that includes former world champions. Besides the US, we have another world-class team, Sweden, in our group. Chile are a South American side and we have never played them before.

“I think the style of football will not be different from teams that we played before.

“It will be a big work for our team to prepare for games with these three teams. We have to create a good impression for the Thai football fans and the Thai people worldwide who are supporting our team.”

Thailand women’s team manager Nualphan Lamsam expects her team to have a tough time in the finals.

“This time we will face the top-ranked team in the world, the US, and the 2003 runners-up Sweden. It is difficult to say how strong they are but they definitely have a lot more experience than us at this level,” said Nualphan.

“I am sure the players will do their best. We still have six months to prepare the team. We plan to take part in some exhibition tournaments and train abroad as well.”

The clash between the US and Sweden will be a rematch of the Olympic quarter-final in Brazil, where the Swedes advanced on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Afterwards, star US goalkeeper Hope Solo called the Swedes "cowards" for bunkering on defence.

“I know about the history, tough games during many years,” said Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson, who took over the team after Pia Sundhage’s retirement in 2017. “We feel that we have a chance and that's the most important thing.”

“It’s a good draw for us,” said the United States’ coach Jill Ellis, who attended the draw.

“It pits us against a couple of teams we're not that familiar with, which I like, and then obviously Sweden. I like having Sweden in the third game because it allows us to settle into the tournament.”

Hosts France will open the World Cup on June 7 against South Korea in Paris. Bangkok Post/Agencies


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