Thailand’s national soccer team, known as the War Elephants, has a long history of competing in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and has even made it to the AFC Asian Cup a few times. But can they ever qualify for the ultimate prize in international soccer: the FIFA World Cup?
First, let’s look at the qualifications for the World Cup. The tournament is held every four years and features 32 national teams from around the globe. These teams are determined through a series of qualification matches that take place in the years leading up to the tournament.
For the AFC, which Thailand is a part of, there are 4.5 spots available for the World Cup. This means that 4 teams can qualify directly, while the fifth-placed team will have to participate in a playoff against a team from another confederation for a chance to qualify.
So, how has Thailand performed in the past?
Unfortunately, the War Elephants have never qualified for the World Cup. Their best performance came in 1972 when they reached the final qualifying round but ultimately fell short of a spot in the tournament. Since then, they have come close a few times but have always fallen short.
One challenge for Thailand is the level of competition in their region. The AFC is home to some of the strongest soccer nations in the world, including Japan, South Korea, and Australia, all of whom have made it to the World Cup multiple times. This makes it difficult for Thailand to compete and earn a direct qualification spot.
However, all is not lost for the War Elephants. They have made some strides in recent years, including a third-place finish in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. This was their best performance in the tournament to date and showed that they are capable of competing with the top teams in their region.
So, what can Thailand do to improve its chances of qualifying for the World Cup? Here are a few ideas:
- Invest in youth development: One way for Thailand to build a stronger national team is by investing in the development of young players. This could include building more soccer academies and training facilities, as well as providing more opportunities for young players to compete at the club and international levels.
- Compete in more international tournaments: Another way for Thailand to gain valuable experience and exposure is by participating in more international tournaments. This could include the AFC Asian Cup, the AFC Champions League, and even friendly matches against strong opponents from other confederations.
- Build a strong coaching staff: A strong coaching staff can make a big difference in the success of a national team. Thailand should look to hire coaches with proven track records of success at the international level and give them the resources they need to build a winning team.
While qualifying for the World Cup may seem like a daunting task for Thailand, it is not impossible. With the right investments and strategies in place, the War Elephants can continue to improve and one day make it to the biggest stage in international soccer.