Thailand will be looking to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan next week to restore their credentials which has taken some knocks of late.

Only Japan can match Thailand’s 15 appearances at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup with the Southeast Asians having been a part of all but three of the tournaments.

In the early years of the continental competition, Thailand were among the strongest sides, finishing as runners-up in three of the first four editions before being crowned champions in 1983 after defeating India 3-0 on home soil in Bangkok.

However, since the successful early years of the competition, Thailand have largely continued to be represented but have struggled to get beyond the group stage.

Four years ago, in Vietnam, after suffering defeats to China and Korea Republic, Thailand secured a 2-1 victory over regional rivals Myanmar to book a fifth place play-off date against the hosts with a spot at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup up for grabs.

In front of 18,000 spectators in Ho Chi Minh City, Thailand secured another 2-1 win after a brace from Kanjana Sungngoen as the Southeast Asian nation qualified for the global showpiece for the first time.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada paired Thailand with two of the strongest teams in the tournament, Norway and Germany, as well as Cote D’Ivoire.

Nuengrutai Srathongvian’s team lost 4-0 to Norway and Germany but ran out 3-2 winners over Cote d’Ivoire in between as they secured their maiden win in the tournament and left having gained valuable experience on the biggest stage of all.

In the qualification campaign for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018, Thailand were placed in a group alongside hosts Palestine and Chinese Taipei, with the tournament held in the West Asian nation in April, 2017.

Thailand had few problems in their opening match against the hosts with Kanjana opening the scoring in a resounding 6-0 victory. Chinese Taipei’s ensuing 5-0 win over Palestine meant that the Thais needed only a draw in their final group game to secure their passage to a 16th continental tournament.

Suchawadee Nildhamrong netted early against the East Asians to ease the pressure on her side and, with no further goals, the 1-0 victory ensured Thailand advanced to Jordan with a 100 percent record.

The next aim for Thailand will be to secure a top-two place in their group and progress to the semi-finals for the first time since 1986 as the Southeast Asian nation seek to replicate the form shown in the early years of the competition when they were regular contenders for the title.

As with four years ago in Vietnam, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup will double up as the qualification campaign for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, and Thailand will feel they have it within themselves to return for a second successive time. –

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