The 20th edition of AFC Women’s Asian Cup will be held in India this week. For the Thailand Women’s National Team this is the perfect moment to try and repeat their best performance when they were winners of the 1983 edition.
This year’s tournament has expanded from 8 to 12 contenders from the last edition in 2018, where the Chaba Kaew managed to reach the semi-finals. Divided into three groups Thailand will face two other Southeast Asian countries in Group B: The Philippines (Friday 21/1 – 7 PM), Indonesia (Monday 24/1 – 7 PM), before taking on group favorites Australia (Thursday 27/1 – 9 PM). Meanwhile, the two other Southeast Asian representatives, Vietnam and Myanmar, are in Group C with Japan and South Korea.
Thailand are coached by Miyo Okamoto of Japan, who makes her debut in this years’ competition. She will be hoping to build a foundation for a new generation of Chaba Kaew stars, and fulfill their dream to play in the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Led by some big names from previous tournaments, the team still boasts veteran goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing (31 years old) and striker Taneekarn Dangda (29 years old). However, this year’s tournament will be a big opportunity for several young players, such as the American graduate duo; 23-year-old goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao and 24-year-old striker Miranda Nild.
Both Tiffany and Miranda studied in the United States and had the chance to play in the college level competition, the NCAA. Interestingly both now play for Scandinavian clubs, as Tiffany joined Icelandic club Keflavík and Miranda is on loan at Swedish side Kristianstads DFF from Seattle OL Reign.
Most of the players in this year’s tournament came from BG Bundit Asia, the recent champions of Thai Women’s National League, with nine out of 23 players in the Chaba Kaew. The squad’s two most senior players are goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing (155 appearances) and defender Sunisa Srangthaisong (152 appearances), while competition debutants Amornrat Udchai and Uraiporn Yongkul have only one appearance for the senior side.
The mix between senior players, who are already experienced at World Cup level, and players who are given a chance and develop from the U-20 team for several years will be interesting to watch. Will Okamoto guide the Chaba Kaew to get their second Asian trophy?