Focus on Thailand
Kuala Lumpur: Thailand come into the draw at the end of a successful year, in which they remained unbeaten in all but their first match against China PR in January.
Head coach: Nuengrutai Srathongvian (THA)
Current FIFA ranking: 29
AFC Women’s Asian Cup appearances: 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014
Best finish: Champions (1983)
The Thais only required two matches to qualify for Jordan 2018.
They were dominant in a 6-0 win over host nation Palestine, before a Suchawadee Nildhamrong goal against Chinese Taipei confirmed an eighth consecutive appearance at the continental finals.
The AFC Women’s Asian Cup was the setting for one of Thailand’s landmark football moments four years ago, when they beat host nation Vietnam 2-1 to finish fifth and book a first ever ticket to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
They did Asia proud at Canada 2015, scoring a 3-2 win over Cote d’ivoire in one of the matches of the tournament, and qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France will be at the top of their agenda in Jordan next April.
As in 2014, Thailand will be coached by Nuengrutai Srathongivan, but she has only recently returned to the senior role, with former English Premier League defender Spencer Prior at the helm from May 2016 until September 2017.
Prior moved on following the SEA Games, where Thailand somewhat disappointingly missed out on a gold medal on goal difference after they were held to a draw by regional rivals Vietnam.
Thailand are likely to bring a highly experienced team to Jordan, with Naphat Seesraum, Nisa Romyen and Taneekarn Dangda just a few of the seasoned internationals at Nuengrutai’s disposal.
Key player: Orathai Srimanee
She spent just nine minutes on the pitch at the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, but Orathai Srimanee (pictured above, left) has since become a key figure in Thailand’s successes at international level.
She became the first Thai player – male or female – to score at a senior 11-a-side FIFA World Cup, and added a second in the same match against Cote d’Ivoire to help Thailand to their first ever win on the global stage two years ago, and she has provided goals ever since.
Orathai was on the scoresheet against Palestine in Jordan 2018 qualifying, and hit three goals, including a crucial late winner against Myanmar, in the SEA Games in August.
Thailand - 'A’ internationals in 2017
|China PR||0-2||Four Nations Tournament||Foshan, China||19/01/2017|
|Ukraine||1-0||Four Nations Tournament||Foshan, China||21/01/2017|
|Myanmar||3-0||Four Nations Tournament||Foshan, China||24/01/2017|
|Palestine||6-0||WAC Qualifiers||Al-Ram, Palestine||03/04/2017|
|Chinese Taipei||1-0||WAC Qualifiers||Al-Ram, Palestine||07/04/2017|
|Chinese Taipei||4-1||Friendly||Bangkok, Thailand||10/06/2017|
|Myanmar||3-2||SEA Games||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia||15/08/2017|
|Malaysia||6-0||SEA Games||Shah Alam, Malaysia||20/08/2017|
|Vietnam||1-1||SEA Games||Shah Alam, Malaysia||22/08/2017|
|Philippines||3-1||SEA Games||Shah Alam, Malaysia||24/08/2017|
|New Zealand||0-0||Friendly||Bangkok, Thailand||25/11/2017|
|New Zealand||0-5||Friendly||Nonthaburi, Thailand||28/11/2017|
Photos: FIFA.com, AFC