Sunday 16 June 2019, 18:45

Scorer Kanjana lauds Thais' faithful fans

  • After record defeat to USA, Thailand lost 5-1 to Sweden today

  • But there was joy when Kanjana Sung-Ngoen scored their first goal at France 2019

  • Kanjana’s goal “brought back smiles” to the Thais, said their coach

By Piyapat Saropala with Thailand

After that huge defeat by USA in their opening match at this FIFA Women’s World Cup, Thailand once again found themselves outgunned by stronger opponents today. Sweden were the team that proved too formidable on this occasion, beating the Asian underdogs with a degree of comfort in Nice.

But despite the result, Thailand did have one reason to cheer. It came in the shape of their first goal at France 2019, which was scored by the team’s inspirational captain, Kanjana Sung-Ngoen.

The 32-year-old striker produced an outstanding performance against Sweden, and her never-say-die paid off in stoppage time when she netted that long-awaited Thai strike - and opened her own Women’s World Cup account in the process.

It was a goal cheered by neutral fans watching around the world, and even by a few Swedes inside the stadium, with Kanjana gaining plenty of media attention after the final whistle was blown.

“I am very happy that we have recovered and improved our performance in this game,” she said afterwards, reflecting on the trauma of that 13-0 loss to the US. “I’m especially happy that I was able to score the first goal for myself and the Thai team in this World Cup.”

Thailand’s head coach, Nuengrutai Srathongvian, also spoke of how meaningful the goal had been to a team whose pride and morale has taken a battering over the past week. “To be able to score a goal against one of the best team in the world proved that our dedication and commitment has been accomplished. It brought back our smiles,” she said.

Players of Thailand show appreciation to the fans following their team's defeat in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between Sweden and Thailand.

Kajana, for her part, also sought to pay tribute to the Thailand fans, who have stayed with the team despite the outcome of that nightmarish opening match.

“Personally, I am very thankful for all the Thai fans for supporting us regardless of our results throughout this World Cup journey,” she said. “We will now do our best for them in the next game again Chile.”

The Thais, while not officially eliminated, would need a miracle to get the kind of win against Chile that would keep them in the hunt for a last-16 spot. But while miracles might be too much to expect, pride has at least been partially restored – thanks largely to Kajana.