National women’s football team coach Nuengruethai Srathongwien says defence is the priority as her players prepare for three warm-up games for next month’s World Cup. Nungruethai and her players are working hard ahead of their second tilt at the global showpiece event.
After their opening warm-up against hosts France in Orleans, they then travel to Belgium for a clash with that nation on June 1 and finally take on Kontich FC in the Belgian city of Leuven three days later.
Defence has been the focus of their training at the Stade Lionel Charbonnier pitch this week and Nungruethai says they need to brace themselves for the high pressing game they can expect from the World Cup hosts, who reached the quarter-finals in Canada in 2015.
“We’ve focused on our game plan against France, which is to prepare for a possible variety of attacking tactics from them,” said Nungruethai during a break in training.
“It’s very necessary that we cover our zone well.”
Nuengruethai, who was also the national coach in Thailand’s World Cup debut four years ago, has warned her players to take good care of themselves and stay injury-free ahead of the biggest competition of their careers.
“They need to be careful as the condition of the pitch [at the training venue] is not good and the last thing we need is for our players to get injured when we have such tough matches ahead,” she added.
Defender Warunee Phetwiset says facing France will serve as a good preparation for their daunting World Cup opener against the United States as both teams play a similar offensive style.
However, she says while defence has been the priority, they won’t be entirely passive on Saturday.
“We have been focusing on our defence but that doesn’t mean we won’t counter attack,” said the 28-year-old from Chonburi. “Also, several young girls in the team will be taking this opportunity to learn from France and shape things up for the real game with the US.”
Thailand have been drawn in World Cup group F along with defending champions USA plus Chile and Sweden.
They kick off their campaign with the US at the Stade Auguste-Delaude in Reims on June 11.
The US is odds-on favourites to retain their title – if they do so they will also be lifting the trophy for a record fourth time.