The intercontinental playoff opens on Saturday in New Zealand with the indomitable lionesses of Cameroon vying for one of the three spots remaining at the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
The girls of Gabriel Zabo, who are now complete in New Zealand, go head-to-head with Asian quarterfinalist Thailand on Saturday at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Cameroon entered this mini-tournament by failing to reach the last four in the 2022 women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, falling to Nigeria 1 nil in the quarterfinal phase of the competition. A narrow one-zero win over Botswana rekindled hopes of another World Cup participation.
This team is hoping to make a third appearance in this world showpiece, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Currently ranked 58 on the FIFA ranking, this 2019 women’s world cup participant is the least ranked team in their group. However, the quality of players at the disposal of coach Zabo gives them a slight edge over their Saturday opponent, Thailand.
The Chaba Kaew of Thailand, just like Cameroon, has been to the World Cup twice. The team’s brutal 13-goal loss to the USA in 2019 is not enough reason for her to want a comeback.
After failing to advance beyond Japan in the Asian Cup playoff, Thailand’s fate had to be decided through another playoff.
Traditionally not a footballing nation in Asia, with their best fit in the Asian Cup being far back in 1983, the team has seen some improvements in recent years, especially in the AFF championship.
The winner of this fixture meets Portugal on Wednesday.
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