HAMILTON, New Zealand: Thailand’s dream of competing in their third consecutive Women’s World Cup is over after the Chaba Kaew fell 2-0 to Cameroon in a qualifying playoff on Saturday.
Cameroon will face Portugal in Hamilton on Wednesday and Haiti will take on Chile in Auckland on the same day to secure two of the three remaining spots in the 2023 World Cup, which will be played from July 20 to Aug 20 in New Zealand and Australia.
This year’s World Cup, where the United States are defending champions, will be the first edition to feature 32 teams. The Thai women competed in both the 2015 and 2019 tournaments.
Cameroon, who reached the last 16 at the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, triumphed at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton following two late goals from substitute Gabrielle Onguene in a chaotic match that featured 24 minutes of added time.
In the most evenly matched of the four games in New Zealand thus far, Thailand began the brighter before Cameroon slowly began to take a grip on proceedings. The Chaba Kaew struggled to break out of their own half as the match wore on but did have one near miss on the hour-mark when captain Nipawan Panyosuk found the side-netting with a free-kick from just outside the area.
Onguene finally opened the scoring in the 79th minute by connecting with a squared pass from Ajara Nchout before wrapping up the victory with another sublime strike three minutes later.
Cameroon were reduced to 10 players deep into stoppage time when goalkeeper Ange Bawou was sent off after a lengthy VAR check for a foul on Jiraporn Mongkoldee.
Bawou, who came off her line and collided with the onrushing Jiraporn, will miss Cameroon’s clash with Portugal. As it happened, Bawou got the worst of the encounter physically and was on the ground for several minutes of treatment — and that was before VAR confirmed the red card.
Earlier, Haiti earned a comprehensive 4-0 win over Senegal after Roselord Borgella scored twice while Kethna Louis and Nerilia Mondesir bagged a goal each at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.
While the Chaba Kaew are out of the qualifying tournament, their time in New Zealand is not over yet. They will get some more international experience with a friendly against Senegal on Tuesday in Hamilton.