Thailand face US firepower as World Cup holders set to open France 2019 campaign

June 11 – The United States will launch their title defence at the Women’s World Cup in Reims, France, against Thailand tonight. The Americans, the most successful team in women’s football, are sky-high favourites to win the tournament.

Jill Ellis’s US team are on an unbeaten run of 28 games since a defeat against Australia in 2017. They have averaged 3.32 goals a game. The Thais will be firm underdogs in the group F encounter and they don’t have history on their side – the only time these two countries have previously met in women’s competition was in 2016 when the US helped themselves to a thumping 9-0 win. Carli Lloyd (pictured) scored three goals and assisted four more in that match.

Thailand have only previously played at one World Cup, winning one game, but will take heart from Argentina holding Japan to a scoreless draw on Monday.

“To face the number one team in the world at the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a massive opportunity for us to test and assess ourselves,” said Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian.

The USA have won the World Cup three time. At the previous finals in Canada in 2015, they defeated Japan 5-2 in a high-octane finale. They were also responsible for the memorable 1999 World Cup win on home soil in front of full stadiums. America defeated China on penalties in the final at the Rose Bowl in California in front of more than 90,000 fans.

“When you go into a three-game mini-tournament you can’t get beyond the first game,” said US coach Ellis. “There are so many twists and turns in this plot. You have to be ready to attack and absorb what’s in front of you. It can be problematic to look too far ahead. There are so many unknowns out there, and I feel confident for our preparation for the unknowns. We have a group that’s pretty well-vetted in terms of knowing their roles and responsibilities. I feel confident putting any one of the 23 players out there.”

On Monday Argentina secured a surprise 0-0 draw with Japan and Canada edged Cameroon 1-0 to get their campaign off to a winning start. The US group is completed by Chile and Sweden who face off on Tuesday in Rennes.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1560688026labto1560688026ofdlr1560688026owedi1560688026sni@o1560688026fni1560688026