Preview – Group F: Sweden v Thailand
Nice: Thailand head coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian is confident her side will carry minimal scars from Tuesday’s record defeat to the United States into their second FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 match against Sweden on Sunday.
The Southeast Asians were beaten 13-0 by the Americans in Reims, conceding 10 goals in the second half alone as part of the biggest defeat by any team since the tournament was first staged in 1991.
But Nuengrutai said the encouragement of a football-mad nation has given her side a boost in the days that followed that match, and that they are prepared to go again when they face a formidable Swedish line-up in Nice.
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“We have to admit that we were really disappointed by the opening game,” said the Thailand boss.
“But after the match we received support from many stakeholders and the players have been through this, many times. Now everybody is mentally ready to play and put on their best (performance).
#ChangsueNews เมื่อวานนี้เวลา 21:30 น. “ชบาแก้ว”ฝึกซ้อมเป็นครั้งที่ 2 ก่อนเจอทีมชาติสวีเดน โดยการฝึกซ้อมเน้นไปที่เกมการรับ“⚽️🇹🇭— Changsuek (@Changsuek_TH) June 15, 2019
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“We don’t know the exact number of how many people watched that game, but after the game we knew there were lots and lots of people watching. Yes, we have received lots of support and we have been overwhelmed (by it). We received lots of messages through social message and we felt encouraged.
“The first match was in the early morning in Thailand but once everybody woke up, they followed the game and the result. We were disappointed, but all the Thai people are still supporting us and encouraging us,”
While the Chaba Kaew will surely be happy to see the back of Alex Morgan and company, their next opponents are impressive in their own right.
Ranked ninth in the world and having won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Swedes may not have the star power of the three-time champion Americans, but they have a similar level of expectation, and Nuengrutai said facing the Scandinavians is a challenge her side must embrace.
“Firstly, we encouraged the players and we got them back on track (after Tuesday’s defeat),” she said.
“We needed to look at the mistakes we made in the last game, and we studied how Sweden played. We’re going to do our best.
“Looking at the opponent, they are a very strong team as well, so we know gaining points tomorrow will be difficult but it’s a challenge and an obstacle we all have to cross.”
Eager to move on from events in Reims, Nuengrutai - who confirmed experienced goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing is fit to play – has also been reminding her players of some their achievements.
Last April, the Thais came within a minute of shocking world number six Australia in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup semi-final, an experience midfielder Pikul Khueanpet has found comfort in while preparing for the match against Sweden.
“We looked back to the game we played against Australia, and we had a draw with them, and we felt better,” she revealed. “We felt encouraged and we hope we can feel like that in tomorrow’s match.”
While expectations on Thailand are relatively low following their forgettable start to the tournament, the same can’t be said for Sweden who are now not only expected to beat the Southeast Asian champions, but to do so in style.
Sweden produced 27 shots at goal in their opening win against Chile, but only found the back of the net twice, in the 83rd and 94th minutes, and head coach Peter Gerhardsson warned of the perils of abandoning a trusted process in favour of simply hunting goals.
““We don’t know how important it will be to score a lot of goals, and you can’t go out to a match and decide to score a lot of goals,” said the former BK Häcken boss. “We have to focus on our performance and how we want the match to go.
“We have a plan for this match. We are going to do everything in our power to win this game, and what the result is? That remains to be seen afterwards.”
Sweden v Thailand FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Group F Stade de Nice, Nice Kick-off: 15.00 (local time)
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