NICE, France (AP) — A couple of seconds elapsed before a disbelieving Kanjana Sungngoen raised her arms in celebration.
It really happened.
Thailand had finally scored at this Women’s World Cup.
By the time Sungngoen found the net against Sweden in the first minute of stoppage time, Thailand was already trailing 4-0 Sunday.
But simply scoring was a triumph after Thailand’s humiliating 13-0 opening loss to the United States. Coaches embraced on the bench and Thai flags were raised in the stands on the French Riviera.
They were still beaming after the final whistle, even after Elin Rubensson scored with the final kick of the game from the penalty spot to seal a 5-1 victory for Sweden, which advanced to the round of 16 with a game to spare.
“Everyone was very happy that we at least scored one,” Kanjana said through a translator. “The whole team is very glad.”
Even if it was only a consolation goal and the team remains bottom of Group F.
“It was a difficult goal and playing a great team like Sweden, it meant so much,” Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said through a translator. “It meant that all of our preparation paid off. We had a lot of chances today. This one goal made us laugh, made us smile and makes us happy.”
Forget that Thailand’s 18 goals conceded equals the tournament record set by Argentina in 2007. And, Thailand still must face Chile in the group finale.
Even Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, through the disappointment of not keeping a clean sheet, could see what scoring meant to the Thais.
“We are all human,” Lindahl said, “and having had that defeat they had against the US, and now scoring their goal, you can feel some empathy for them.”
It helped that her teammates had already scored four times by the time Sungngoen got on the end of a high ball on the right flank and cut in before beating Lindahl at her near post.
The first of the five Swedish scorers netted in the 6th minute in Nice, with Linda Sembrant heading past Waraporn Boonsing.
The Thai goalkeeper did manage to palm away Anna Anvegard’s shot in the 19th minute but she couldn’t recover the ball to prevent Kosovare Asllani scoring. Boonsing couldn’t stop the 41st-minute strike from Fridolina Rolfo curling into the top corner.
Just like in the game against the United States, it was 3-0 at halftime. Unlike in Paris, Thailand didn’t concede another four times in the opening 11 minutes of the second half.
In fact, it took Sweden until the 81st minute to find the net again through Lina Hurtig’s header before being beaten by Thailand on the counterattack.
So when the final whistle blew, the Thai squad was able to bow to its fans. Some pride had been restored.
“Our defeat in the last game was massive,” Srathongvian said. “We were disappointed, but scoring one today we made some success. We still need to develop and we need to improve and make it better. We need to get as close to other super teams. We need to play better so we can enjoy it more.”