SEA Games: Acid test for the Womens Asian Cup

Thai women's national team
After Thailand's men entered the SEA-Games competition a week ago, it is now on the women's national team to enter the medal race on this Saturday. For the team around captain Naphat Seesraum it is also an acid test as it could turn out to be a blueprint of the upcoming Asian Cup in 2014.

For the women national teams from South-East Asia the biennial SEA-Games are mostly nothing else than a new edition of the yearly AFF Championships. The only differences between both tournaments: while only nations from South-East Asia are allowed to participate at the SEA-Games, nations like Japan or Australia are to complete the starting field of the AFF Championships. And the women's are allowed to enter the Games with full force and one is not limited to U-23 players only like it is the case for the men's tournament.

With this year's South-East Asian Championship it is not only about gold for Thailand, but it is also about a presumably last acid test before the Women's Asian Cup in May 2014. There, in Group B, one will have to deal with China, South Korea and Myanmar. The letter will be a direct competitor for the third place in the group which entitles for a fifth place play-off game. The winner of this one, obtains a ticket for the Women's World Cup 2015 in Canada. And in this duel, rival Vietnam may be the team to beat.

Thailand's way to gold at the 27th SEA-Games could be exactly in this order. Myanmar in the semis, Vietnam in the Final. Provided one qualifies for the semi-final. What is very likely in consideration of the two opponents in Group B: Laos and Malaysia. In the other group the Filipinas count as an outsider against Vietnam and Myanmar. So a real blueprint of what we could see in May next year could lay ahead. In the best case.

What concerns the preparation, she was, nothing more like business as usual. In a bad sense. The women's league was pulled through in all haste earlier this year to be able to prepare the team for the Asian Cup qualifiers. Afterwards everyone went directly back to the camp at Ramkhamhaeng to get prepared for the AFF Championship. And, yes, even after this campaign the whole thing started all over again for the SEA-Games. Boredom and monotony - we can hear you call.

At least, there was an unexpected change at the office midyear. Piyakul Kaewnamkang, since 2011 at the helm, suddenly withdrew. He has been replaced by one if its predecessor, Jatuporn Pramualban. The last days of the camp still provided for little excitement before departing to Myanmar
When riots between students broke out in Soi's next to Ramkhamhaeng University, the women were evacuated fast from their accommodations. Team manager Nualphan Lamsam, organised new lodgings in quick way.

The SEA-Games squad is primarily made of players who are already part of the team since many years. One knows himself and despite a few youngsters it shouldn't be a problem to gel together. Captain Naphat Seesraum and Kanjana Sungngeon are meanwhile returned from their adventure in Japan, like forward Pitsami Sornsai. During her first appearance for Speranza FC in the Nadeshiko League she got seriously injured. Pitsamai is still in rehab, not 100 percent fit and will miss the tournament. But NIsa Romyen and Terasil's sister Taneekarn Dangda should do the job up front.

If one hopes to catch one or the other game of the girls live on TV, you will be disappointed. There will be no live coverage, at least not of the group stage. Despite Khun Lamsam called on the TV stations to broadcast the games. All games take place in Mandalay. And except of the women's football tournament, there is no other sporting event on the schedule. So hardly any TV-Station will find its way to the centre heart of Myanmar.
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