Nice: How do you come back from the worst defeat in World Cup history?
For Thailand, who lost to the United States by a harrowing-to-witness 13-0 in their first group-stage match last Tuesday, a kind of vindication came in the 90th minute of their second match, against Sweden, on Sunday.
True, Sweden dominated from the beginning. True, Thailand were losing at the time. But then in the waning minutes of the match, the swift, seemingly indefatigable Thai captain, Kanjana Sung-Ngoen, latched on to the ball, muscled it down the right wing and then whacked it past the Swedish goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl.
Goal, Thailand. It was, in that one brief moment, almost as good as winning.
“This one meant a lot to us,” the Thailand coach, Nuengruetai Srathongvian, said with some understatement after the match. “It meant that all our preparation paid off. It made us laugh; it made us smile; it made us happy.”
She did not want to dwell on what had come before, but said that the debacle in the game against the United States had not deterred her squad from performing their best against Sweden.
“Our defeat in the last game was massive, and of course we were disappointed,” Srathongvian said. “But the first improvement we made was in our mentality. The players weren’t scared to play today, and they fixed the mistakes they made in the last game.”
She added: “Even to score one goal today meant we have made some success.”