Women's World Cup Analysis

How Thailand’s USA Calamity Should Give Us New Perspective

Steven Danis

Women’s World Cup Correspondent


After already recapping the match yesterday, I’d like to take another angle to discuss Thailand’s 13-0 loss to the USA in more depth. USWNT set so many records tonight and we must stand with Thailand to accept that anything can happen in football and there are always stories behind it. 

The 13-0 score in Reims last night may be the worst, and will be hard to forget by all side as the World Cup is the biggest tournament where each game is immortalized in history.

But then for Thailand, is it bad or a disaster? I’m really shocked at the many opinions that said Chabakaew do not belong to this competition, as they have forgotten how Thailand booked their place in World Cup as one of the semi-finalists of Women’s Asian Cup last year. Kanjana Sung-ngoen and her colleagues even pushed Australia to draw 2-2 until extra time, before The Matildas went through to the final spot after winning on penalties. 

The result may only show the disparities of the quality between both teams. Even Thailand need to increase their level with called up two Thai-American players, young striker Miranda Suchawadee Nildhamrong and young goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao, for this year’s campaign. I’m pretty sure that both and many young talents of Thailand football that I’ve watched in several competitions such as AFF U-15 may do better in upcoming years.

The outcome was shocking, especially because Chabakaew managed to keep the defending champions to three goals after the first half. Remember that sometimes men’s football has had similar stories too. Don’t forget how England beat Panama 6-1 in Russia, or how Germany made a mockery of Brazil by winning 1-7 at the 2014 World Cup semi. The biggest record in international football also happened in men’s football as Australia trashed American Samoa 31-0 in 2002 qualifying round.

But I’m not trying to compare these occasions, as men’s and women’s football has their own uniqueness. There are only 24 participants in Women’s World Cup itself, not like the men’s side which had 32 participants even plan for going up to 48 participants because FIFA knows the disparities between nations and wants to develop the global game. 

If we want to fight for greater equality between the men’s and women’s game, the World Cup should also consider an expansion to 32 participants. Instead of questioning if Thailand deserves to be at the tournament, we should instead understand that being on the world stage provides in invaluable opportunity for them to develop, and we should also extend that possibility to other federations that want to improve their women’s teams. 

So far the first match day is going well and has been full of surprises as Italy beat Australia while Argentina held Japan in a goalless match. The story may look ordinary if we talk about men’s side but has different implications on the women’s side. Argentina are not quite a traditional strong side in women’s game, their women’s game was inactive for years, and their national team wasn’t present in any international tournaments until the re-branding the league and the development over the last two years. In such a short time, La Albiceleste qualified for the World Cup and held the 2011 champions to win their first point at in the tournament’s history.

Meanwhile, the Italian league (Serie A Femminile) is not a full-pro competition, with standards far below what is expected of Australia. But even then, Barbara Bonansea’s brace opened their eyes that anything is possible in football even in women’s game.

“It was an amazing experience to be able to play against the States. It was just a really cool experience. It’s kind of all hitting me at once. Incredibly emotional. Even before the game it was insane. After it ended, just shaking all the players’ hands, it was just so awesome,” said Miranda Nild, the Thai-American player told the Los Angeles Times, describing how it felt to make her World Cup debut and share the same pitch as her idol, Alex Morgan.

Morgan and her colleagues even showed a great gesture to cheer up all of Thailand’s players, as they did their best in their second World Cup campaign after their debut back in 2015. For sure, the result would have been better if the federations wanted to develop invest more in women’s game. Not only for Thailand, but also with African and South American countries, even especially my country too, Indonesia. I even can’t imagine if suddenly Garuda Pertiwi went to the World Cup and meet USWNT, how many goals would they score then?

USWNT still played with their best starting eleven and did not underestimate the opponents, not because they want to score many goals, but because they wanted to be an example of Thailand. To show them that this is the level they must achieve in the coming years and that they would be glad to meet again when Thailand has achieved that higher quality – which will come when the federation invests in better development. 

Cheer up, Chabakaew! Let’s talk about all the lessons that Americans gave. Thank them for it, and you come back better and stronger in the coming years.