Sweden sputters while Thailand redeems

16 Jun

Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group F – Sweden v Thailand – Stade de Nice, Nice, France – June 16, 2019 Sweden’s Olivia Schough in action with Thailand’s Natthakarn Chinwong REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

This Sunday match-up was to be about both Sweden and Thailand showing me what they can do. Turns out, only Thailand could do it (and in spades!) as Sweden basically showed the same as before. Perhaps even a little less. Maybe I’m searching for a quality that is no longer part of the Swedish team and disappointing myself in the process? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is Thailand can bring it!

Just going to drop this here and move on –

Pre-match festivities

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Match overview

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Location: Allianz Riviera, Nice
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Referee: Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda)
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Match details

Sweden seemed a bit … unsettled(?) at kick-off. But no worry. A foul by Ainon Pancha at the six minute mark led to a free-kick which led to Linda Sembrant getting her head in the game which led to the ball being in the net. 1-0 Sweden.

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Height over less height is going to increase your header chances. Just saying.

All Sweden for the next bit. Fridolina Rolfö claimed the ball in the area, beat four defenders but couldn’t stick the landing. Oops. Sport confusion there. It’s really early here for a Sunday.

Off went Thailand. Kanjana Sung-Ngoen rounded the Swedish defense and sent in a cross that needed to be cleared. Sweden was feeling some pressure as Thailand got their first shot in via Miranda Nild soon after. It went high when it needed to go low.

Sweden came on back with Lina Hurtig sending in a header to the far post. Boonsing stretched and made a nice save but Kosovare Asllani was there to collect the ball before it went out. She managed to get enough of an angle to nab the game’s second goal. 2-0 Sweden.

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A bunch of sloppy play ensued mainly by Sweden but some by Thailand as well.

I admit I was distracted by all the empty seats in the stadium at this point. Hard to believe a city with 350,000+ citizens couldn’t fill a 36,000+ seat stadium way more than it was (final tally – 9,354 😦 ). Maybe I’m overestimating the popularity of football in France? Empty seats were a trend last year at the U-20 WWC too but I had thought that would change with the senior teams. Meh.

Back to it.

Magdalena Eriksson got a header off a free kick but sent it into the stands. Thailand won a free-kick in Sweden’s half and the resulting play looked to reward them with a corner kick. No said the assistant referee in a timely manner.

The action backed out into the midfield with both teams enjoying spells of possession. Good movement in the 41′ by Sung-Ngoen who went 1-on-3 (or was it 4?) only to see her cross unable to find an open teammate.

Sweden countered right away and Rolfö found herself able to make up for an earlier miss I saw but didn’t mention earlier. 3-0 Sweden.

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Taneekarn Dangda dropped a challenge on Hurtig in extra time and received the first yellow card of the match.

Half-time: Sweden 3 – Thailand 0

Super substitute time! Sweden brought on Madelen Janogy and shit was getting serious now. She smashed in a short range shot but Boonsing was there for it. I think I felt that on her behalf. Swift medical treatment and Boonsing was good to go.

Hurtig got her chance to see how it felt getting a ball in the face not long after. Play was stopped as the medical team assessed her for a head injury. All good.

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Sweden had most of the momentum at this point but Thailand were also defending much better showing some of the cohesion I knew they had.

In the 63′ Thailand got some heat going with a counter led by Sung-Ngoen after nabbing the ball off Swedish captain Caroline Seger. It died pretty quickly as she waited for assistance which only arrived in yellow.

Sung-Ngoen got another chance in the seventy-fifth minute with assistance from Nild but the accuracy couldn’t match the ambition.

Feeling no obvious effect of the ball to the head, Hurtig took full advantage of being unmarked not long after and powered into the box to send a header into the top corner. 4-0 Sweden.

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A bit deflating. Into extra time now and the persistence of captain Sung-Hgoen was about to pay off. She made a great run in behind the defense thanks to a smooth pass by Danga and unleashed a power strike right past Hedvig Lindahl at the near post. 4-1 Sweden.

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I KNEW THEY COULD DO IT! I KNEW IT! Tears were flowing on the bench. Maybe a twinkle of one or two in my eyes too. It’s early here okay!

And just when I thought I wouldn’t have to type those three dreaded letters today – VAR time with one minute to go.

A header hit the upper arm of Natthakarn Chinwong, who was moving it as one would when moving. A relatively quick review and out came the yellow card and the penalty signal. Sigh.

Elin Rubensson stepped up and made no mistake. 5-1 Sweden.

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Final score: Sweden 5 – Thailand 1

HB & HB Player of the Match: Kanjana Sung-Hgoen THA

VISA Player of the Match: Kosovare Asllani SWE

Final thoughts

Sweden has some problems. Could they have scored more goals? No. There’s only so much clinical movement they can do and they exhausted those early. I think they’re lucky they got five facing a determined Thailand defense and goalkeeper. They didn’t labour as much in this match as they did v Chile but they did labour. That’s partly a testament to Thailand but also partly a testament to Sweden not really knowing what their strategy is beyond getting the ball in the net. They’re like the US in that regard which may make for an interesting match to close out Group F.

Thailand were able to get the ball out of their half in this match and that made a world of difference. You could see how hard Sung-Hgeon was working up front and Dangda in the midfield. They got their reward with an extra time goal which must have felt like a gift from the heavens.

They also worked hard defensively and did it more collaboratively than their previous match. Boonsing was much more settled and pulled out a few good saves for the team. All of this play will be a confidence boost heading into their last game at this tournament v Chile.

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– Teri

One Response to “Sweden sputters while Thailand redeems”

  1. forzasusan June 16, 2019 at 10:27 pm #

    I agree with you…I think my memories of Sweden of the past keep me from having a realistic view of Sweden now.

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