Sornpao looking forward after Olympic elimination
Sydney: Goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao has expressed her desire to remain a part of the Thailand women’s national team, after Monday’s 6-0 defeat to Australia ended their Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualification bid.
On a night where the Southeast Asians were overwhelmed by a rampant Matildas outfit, Sornpao held her own with a number of impressive saves, including a terrific diving stop to deny Sam Kerr in the final minute of the game.
While little has gone to plan for Thailand in a week which saw them suffer three successive defeats, Sornpao emerged as one of the team’s shining lights, making the goalkeeping position her own after remaining on the bench throughout their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
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The US-born Sornpao has been a starter for American Division 1 collegiate outfit Kennesaw State since 2017 and the 21-year-old hopes a successful transition into the professional ranks will provide the platform for a long-term spell with the Thai national team.
“I believe (I will remain with the team),” Sornpao told the-AFC.com. “Right now, I’m in that transition of finishing my college and hopefully going pro, so I would love to stay with the team.
“As we go on, we have a new coaching staff, new everything, so at the moment it is a really hard transition - and it didn’t come at a good time for such a big event like this - but I do think if we progress slowly the way we are, I think we’ll look pretty good.”
While Australia ultimately cruised to a commanding win at Campbelltown Stadium, Thailand remained on level terms just a few minutes before half-time, temporarily conjuring memories of the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup semi-final, where the sides played out a 2-2 draw before the Matildas prevailed in a penalty shootout.
Two Emily van Egmond goals in the shadows of half-time proved to be catalyst for a clinical second half display from the hosts, but Sornpao admitted she felt Thailand were still in the game until the first goal was scored, and that her side struggled to hold Australia off after the break.
“I didn’t realise where we were at until I had a glimpse at the clock,” said Sornpao.
“I definitely thought if they kept playing how they were playing we had a chance, because we were starting to pick off what they were trying to do."
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“I would say (the mental side) was a big part of (conceding four goals in six minutes). It seemed like we weren’t ready to get set for the next one. Obviously, you get scored on and you have to revaluate, figure everything out and get started again.
“I think the problem is that we didn’t do that. We kind of hung our heads and then when the ball was played, we were just a little out of it for a few minutes.”
Thailand and Chinese Taipei were both eliminated on Monday, leaving Australia and China PR to advance from Group B to next month’s final play-off round.
Next on the agenda for Thailand is the Cyprus Women’s Cup, with Naruephon Kaenson’s side to lock horns with Slovakia in their opening match on March 6.
Photos: Football Federation Australia, AFP
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