By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Thailand, preparing for their second World Cup after their debut in Canada four years ago, will have three warm-ups – against France in Orleans on Saturday, away to hosts Belgium on June 1 and finally, against Kontich FC in Leuven, Belgium, on June 4.
The Kingdom have been drawn in World Cup Finals group F alongside top seeds the US, Sweden and Chile.
“The warm-up games especially with France, will serve as a good opportunity to test our tactics,” said national coach and former Thailand player Nuengrutai Srathongvian. “France are beyond our level. We will learn from that game and try to fix our weaknesses going into the match with Belgium.”
Thailand’s squad consists of several half-American players, including striker Suchawadee Nildhamrong from California and Kennesaw State Owls’ goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao, plus several Thai stars, including striker Taneekarn Dangda and captain Sunisa Srangthaisong.
Despite the huge challenges ahead, Nuengrutai’s goal is to take at least a point from each of the three warm-up games to boost team morale ahead of the World Cup.
“The players have improved continually and have gained more and more experience,’ she said. “They have no pressure as they are aware of what they will be up against. Although all the teams in the warm-ups are stronger than teams in our World Cup group, we still hope to take a point from them.”
Team manager Nualphan Lamsam, meanwhile, is warning her players to be careful with their health and ensure they are in peak condition for the World Cup.