Women’s Asian Cup: Trio confident of sealing FIFA World Cup ticket

Their defeat in the quarter-finals may have ended their hopes of winning the AFC Women’s Asian Cup title, but three-time champions Chinese Taipei have a lot of play for in the round-robin playoffs to determine the fifth team to earn an automatic slot of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Chinese Taipei start the favourite to clinch the spot via the playoffs that also include Thailand and Vietnam as the other teams in the fray. The teams will have no margin for error when they clash in a round-robin playoff as any complacency will result in the World Cup berth slipping away.

The three losing quarter-finals in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 square off with the first fixture pitting Thailand against Vietnam on Wednesday with the Thais playing Chinese Taipei two days later. The playoff will conclude with Chinese Taipei facing Vietnam on Sunday.

Despite their heartbreaking penalties defeat to the Philippines in the quarter-finals, Chinese Taipei head coach Echigo Kazuo is hopeful of his team’s chances in the playoffs.

“We can’t change what happened,” said Kazuo. “However, after the match against the Philippines, I told the players to switch their focus to the next two games. The players are highly motivated and really want to play in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Looking at the incredible support the fans have shown us, we’re further inspired to do well in our upcoming matches. Our focus now is to rest and recuperate. The players played for more than two hours against the Philippines. They need some time to recharge physically and mentally.”

Thailand assistant coach Natsuko Todoroki said the players are motivated and prepared for the playoffs.

“Although we lost our last game, we still have a fighting chance to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Todoroki. “The players are motivated. We are in constant communication with head coach Miyo Okamoto on the best strategy to use.

“We have played in the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice before and the players know what is at stake. We have some areas to work on in our training sessions and I believe we can get the results.”

Forward Irravadee Markis believes Thailand stand a strong chance of qualifying for their third FIFA World Cup.

“Playing the last few matches has been beneficial for our team. If we keep to our game plan and continue our approach, I’m sure we can win.

“Even though Thailand have featured in two FIFA World Cups, I’ve never played in one. It’s certainly a good exposure for the team, especially the younger players.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung is equally confident his players will qualify for their first FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“The players have worked hard to be here and I believe we will continue playing our best to achieve our goal of reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year,” said Mai.

“Qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be a huge achievement for us and Vietnamese football. We’ve had good preparation and the team is ready to do their best.

“We gained plenty of experience playing against higher-ranked teams like Japan and I can only see the players improving,” said Mai.

The winner of the playoffs will join the four qualified teams — China PR, Japan, Korea Republic and the Philippines in the Finals, with Australia also through as the co-hosts.

The remaining two teams can still qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup through the Inter-Confederation playoffs.

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