The Thailand team may have crashed out of the ongoing Fifa Women’s World Cup but there was a reason for them to celebrate despite a comprehensive 1-5 defeat to Sweden on Sunday.
Thailand’s campaign had got off to the worst possible start they could have ever imagined. Against defending champions USA, the Asian side suffered a 13-0 thrashing – the highest in the history of the tournament – that left the players weeping after the final whistle.
During their second group game against Sweden, they were on the brink of yet another big defeat in Nice after going down by four goals with nine minutes to go on the clock. But that’s when a rare and historic goal sparked emotional scenes on the touchline.
It was captain Kanjana Sung-Ngoen who raced through on goal and drilled a shot at the near post to score the first goal for her country at the tournament. Though it was just a consolation goal, it showed what it meant to Thailand.
The entire team management was in tears but it was the reaction from Nualphan Lamsam that said the most. She broke down in tears and hugged Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian on the touchline in a touching moment.
Lamsam is not just the team manager, she is the president and chief executive officer of Muang Thai Insurance and has invested heavily in the team. Her firm also employs a majority of the women’s national team players. Without her, it would have not even been possible for them to make an appearance in France.
Thailand may have given 18 goals in both their matches so far but that one goal reminded everyone how precious that moment was for them.