Chonburi: Thailand head coach Arun Tulwattanangkul has set his side the dual goals of a semi-final berth and World Cup qualification as his nation prepares to host the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship for the first time.
Speaking after the tournament’s official draw, - where Thailand were drawn alongside DPR Korea, Australia and Vietnam on Thursday - Tulwattanangkul backed his side to be among the contenders despite not appearing in the tournament’s top four since 2004.
“I think the group is really strong,” he told the-AFC.com. “Both DPR Korea and Australia are really strong teams, and Vietnam is a game where I think we could get some points”
“I have two goals; the first is to get to the semi-finals, and the next goal is to be in the (FIFA U-20 Women’s) World Cup.”
Thailand will need to produce their best ever finish in the Asian Finals if they are return to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, an event they hosted in 2004, and their 48-year-old boss believes being the host nation will provide his young charges with a considerable boost.
“Of course, the support will be really strong from the Thai people,” he declared. “(Because of this) the girls will perform at their best.”
A breeding ground for some of the greats of the Asian women’s football, the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship provides the final stop for many players before they embark on senior international careers.
Phonphirun Philawan and Kanyanat Chetthabutr (pictured above) have both featured in Thailand’s senior side since appearing in the 2017 edition of the tournament, and Tulwattanangkul believes the current crop has players with the talent to do the same.
#AFCU19W Thailand 2019 draw results. The competition will be played October 27 - November 9, 2019! pic.twitter.com/9ksmtqzPoQ
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) May 23, 2019
“Right now, the U-19 players have been testing (themselves) with the senior team – four or five players - but it’s only been training,” he revealed. “They have the potential.”
Thailand’s AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 campaign begins against neighbours Vietnam on October 27, before further group stage matches against Australia and DPR Korea.
Group B will see defending champions Japan meet China PR, Korea Republic and Myanmar, with the final to be held on November 9.