The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India drew to a close with China winning their 9th title, and two debutants who will play in the next World Cup. However, it was a disappointing campaign for Thailand, who were eliminated at the quarter-final stage and now await the inter-continental playoffs which will determine their fate.
The Philippines, who beat Thailand 1-0 in the first match of the group stage, were the tournament’s surprise packages as they booked their place in next years’ World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. After finishing as the runners-up of Group B, the Malditas knocked out Chinese Taipei to reach the semi-final.
Meanwhile, Thailand lost 7-0 against Japan in the quarter-final, and subsequently faced Vietnam and Chinese Taipei in the play-off to clinch another World Cup ticket. A COVID outbreak in the squad severely limited the options coach Miyo Okamoto had at her disposal, and the Chaba Kaew lost 2-0 against Vietnam and 3-0 against Chinese Taipei with a depleted squad.
The Chaba Kaew now have little hope left, as they will face a difficult inter-continental playoff against two opponents from North and South America, Africa, one from Oceania and Europe who will enter a play-off system like Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Vietnam did.
The playoffs will take place in Australia and New Zealand from the 17th to the 23rd of February 2023, as a test event for the two nations prior to hosting the competition in the summer.
Besides scouting new talents through the 2022 Women’s League, I think Thailand needs to send more players to play outside Thailand. With the Japanese ‘WE League’ gaining traction, the agreement between the FAT and JAF should be a good starting point.
Thailand have a chance to set things right, with the 2022 SEA Games in Vietnam on the horizon in May. Coach Okamoto’s focus should now be on looking for as many as players to join the squad as possible before traveling to that tournament, while the FAT should also consider a training camp in Japan with some friendlies there before going to the inter-continental playoff.