Monday 22 June 2020, 02:53

Evergreen Sornsai eyes Women’s World Cup encore

  • Pitsamai Sornsai is Thailand’s top international scorer

  • Striker featured at France 2019

  • She maintains hope of a second Women’s World Cup

Seventy-five goals from 115 international appearances. By any standard, Thailand women's national team top scorer Pitsamai Sornsai's goal-scoring rate is impressive. FIFA Women's World Cup™-winning captain Megan Rapinoe has managed 52 goals across 168 caps.

And along with the goals have come awards earned and trophies won. Notably, she bagged the Thailand Women's Player of the Year and AFF Women's Player of the Year double in 2018 following her scintillating displays during their title-winning campaign in that year's AFF Women's Championship.

All these glories aside, it seems like there is something missing: a Women's World Cup goal has evaded her so far. She did figure for Thailand in the country's second and her first Women's World Cup at France 2019, starting against both Sweden and Chile in the last two group matches after she warmed the bench in the disastrous 13-0 loss against USA in the opener. However, she failed to find the back of the net as they lost both games to crash out.

"It [France 2019 campaign] of course enabled us to realise the strengths of those global powerhouses," the 31-year-old told reflecting on their campaign in France a year ago. "Meanwhile, we should think about how we can improve as a team. Looking back at the basic elements and developing a strong youth national team will perhaps be the most important if we are to close the gap between us and the world's best."

Despite the disappointing results, it came as a memorable campaign for Sornsai after rubbing shoulders with the world's best players. "For me, it was a great experience which I will always cherish-after all, it was the Women's World Cup, the biggest stage for a player to represent their nation. And the chance of playing against the world's top sides doesn't come around often."

Growing up with futsal

Just as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo started playing futsal in their early days, Sornsai honed her skills by playing the five-a-side game. She started playing football with neighbouring boys and in 2009 she joined a futsal club, G.H. Bank RBAC, where she made notable progress.

"I am a sportswoman. I am always keen on trying different types of sports and playing futsal is one of my biggest passions. I always try to make time to play futsal, but of course I do my best not to disrupt my training and playing in the 11-a-side game.

"I began my career by playing football but for a brief period I was engaged in futsal," she recalled, citing what kind of inspiration she drew from the indoor game. "Playing futsal requires pace, fast thinking and shrewd responses. You need to be really thinking and acting quickly with the ball and that helped me to transfer those techniques into football so that I could enhance my play.

"My futsal experiences give me an edge when playing football. It gives me more agility, different techniques. Besides, I think fast when in possession because in futsal there is less space and you are allowed less time to think once you have the ball at your feet."

Superb physical strength allied with sublime skill, Sornsai became defenders' worst nightmare. She announced her emergence on the local scene in 2009, finishing as the Thai Women's League's top scorer with 21 goals. At the international level, she struck four goals as Thailand won silver at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games.

Her recent exploits came in the 2018 AFF Women's Championship, where she scored eight times as her side claimed a record fourth title. As an accomplished player as she is, however, Sornsai maintains her fresh ambitions of scoring her first Women's World Cup goal.

"Representing Thailand and singing the national anthem at the Women's World Cup is what I want to experience again," said the striker who recently left Japan's Speranza F.C. Osaka-Takatsuki to join Taoyuan FA of Chinese Taipei. “Should the opportunity arise, I will spare nothing to compete for the rights of playing in the next Women's World Cup."

Sornsai's Factfile

Name: Pitsamai Sornsai Birth date: 19 January 1989 International goals: 75 International caps: 115 Honours: 2018 Thailand Woman Player of the Year, 2018 AFF Woman Player of the Year, 2009 Thai Women's Premier League Top Scorer (21 goals), 2009 Southeast Asian Games Top Scorer