BANGKOK – Hundreds of well-wishers greet Thailand’s women football team at Suvarnabhumi airport after they arrived from the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Thailand manager Nuanphan Lamsam said the women football team has vowed to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup again after their finals debut in Canada.
Although they were eliminated after the first round, they secured their first ever World Cup points with a 3-2 win over fellow debutants Ivory Coast.
The win was not enough to send them to the second round after two 4-0 defeats against Germany and Norway.
“I am satisfied with our performance overall but it is a pity that we could not reach the last-16 round because we were in a tough group,” said Thailand manager Nuanphan Lamsam.
“We had a physical disadvantage but we could still win historic points with the 3-2 win over Ivory Coast.”
“Now we know that we have the potential to progress to the world level although we must be well-prepared for tournaments. We need a women’s professional football league.”
Asked about the next World Cup to be held in France in 2019, Nuanphan said: “We really want to return to the World Cup. Our players who are 27-28 years old feel confident that they can continue playing after seeing several fine players in their 30s in Canada.”
Coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian was more realistic about her team’s chance of appearing in another World Cup saying there were several Asian sides standing in Thailand’s way.
Asian sides Japan, China, South Korea and Australia are world-class teams, she said.
The quartet all got past the first round at the 2015 World Cup.
Moreover, Nuengrutai said, North Korea, another top Asian side, will be eligible for the next World Cup after being suspended from taking part in the current finals.
Asia got five berths for the 2015 World Cup with Thailand securing the fifth and final spot at last year’s AFC Women’s Cup.
North Korea were not allowed to play in the AFC Women’s Cup with Japan, Australia, China and South Korea sealing the top-four spots.
Nuengrutai also called for a return of the local women’s professional league which has not been held for two years.
Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said he would push for the return of the women’s league by using the structure of the men’s Thai Premier League.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s next tournament will be Asia’s second qualifying round for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Bangkok in September.
Thailand will face Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan and Jordan in that tournament with the top team reaching the final qualifying round for the Rio Games.
The winners will join hosts Japan, Australia, China, South Korea and North Korea in Asia’s final Olympic qualifying round with the top two teams earning tickets to Rio.
“It will be a tough job because only two Asian teams get Olympic berths,” said Nuanphan.
The players will take a break and return to the training camp next month.