Thailand claim first-ever World Cup win behind controversial call

Thailand struck a blow for the depth of Asian women’s football Thursday night when they came from behind in Ottawa to defeat Cote d’Ivoire 3-2 in a battle of Women’s World Cup debutantes. It was the first victory for Thailand at this level as they came back from conceding an early goal to eke out a close-fought victory.

Ange Nguessan opened the scoring for Cote d’Ivoire in the fourth minute but the lead did not last as Orathai Srimanee got Thailand on top with a pair of goals later in the first half. Thanatta Chawong capitalized on poor Cote d’Ivoire defending to add the third goal in the 75th minute after the Africans had managed some second half attacking pressure. Josee Nahi, with a strong run and finish in the 88th minute gave Cote d’Ivoire late hope, but the goal left them one short of requirements despite six minutes of stoppage time being played.

Christine hit the crossbar in that stoppage time and Nguessan nearly collected a rebound as Cote d’Ivoire came so close to getting a share of the spoils.

Thailand probably will need a positive result against Germany next Monday to keep alive its knockout hopes, Cote d’Ivoire finish against Norway the same day needing both a victory and some help to have any hope of advancing as a third-place finisher.

"It’s the first three points for our country — we are very lucky, because even though we had less attacking chances, we got our first victory in our country’s history," Thailand manager Nuengrutai Srathongvian said via FIFA’s official website. "We respect [Cote d’Ivoire], they played very well. We are honoured to be playing the best team in the world, Germany, in our next match, and will do our absolute best to win."

Just four minutes into the match, Thailand failed to deal with a corner from the right, the ball was headed back into the six-yard area and Nguessan was free to scoop the ball into the net for the first-ever Ivorian World Cup goal. The Thais got level when the Cote d’Ivoire offside trap failed completely allowing Anootsara Maijarern to get to the left byeline and cut back for Srimanee’s 26th-minute header that leveled matters at 1-1. It was also the first Thailand strike in a World Cup.

The Thais might have gone ahead in the 29th minute when Nisa Romyen hit the left post after Ivorian keeper Dominique Thiamale could only parry a shot from outside the box. Romyen closed quickly but struck then outside of the woodwork with her attempt to bury the rebound.

Neither side was able to establish control in the first half although Thailand looked a bit more dangerous going forward, especially when they were able to get the ball wide on the left. Cote d’Ivoire should have taken the lead, though, when Nguessan slipped a pass across the face of goal only for Ines Nhery to smack a wide open chance again the right post of an open net in the 44th minute. Thailand then took the lead in the next minute when Srmianee came clear six yards out to head a cross from the right off the bar and across the line.

Nguessan could have gotten Cote d’Ivoire level in the 56th minute but her shot hit the bar from the center of the box as the Africans began to trouble the Thai defense with attacks from out wide. The Thais were tracking back effectively, though, and they made it diffcult for Cote d’Ivoire to provide finishing passes.

The better Cote d’Ivoire attacking play did not pay off until very late however and Chawong was all alone to get Thailand’s vital third in the 75th minte when  Thiamale came off her line for a cross from the left, did not get near the ball and left the defense in disarray. A substitute, Chawong had only been on the field two minutes when she scored what proved to be the match winner.

"After a tough loss against Germany, we gave everything tonight to try and get back in the competition, but it wasn’t enough," Cote d’Ivoire coach Clementine Toure said on FIFA’s website. "It’s a sad night for us. We had three crossbars, and that’s the bad luck we had against us tonight. At the end of the day, we are lacking goals – it’s sad for our country, because we could have won that game, but we just couldn’t finish. Beyond this World Cup, we are looking to be a competitive World Cup side in future competitions."