Norway takes care of Thailand with 4-0 win World Cup opener
OTTAWA — FIFA's decision to expand the women's World Cup field looks like it will tune up the tournament contenders just fine.
Norway beat Thailand 4-0 on Sunday to open Group B with a resounding victory that could have been even more lopsided if not for some sloppy finishing by the victors.
Thailand, making its debut as the tournament stretches from 16 to 24 teams, was easily outmatched against the 1995 champion.
There was little doubt from kickoff that a Thai victory would be a gargantuan task.
"It did not feel like a warm-up match. We were nervous about the quality of the Thailand team," said Norway coach Even Pellerud, whose team has never missed out on qualifying for the finals. "I thought they challenged us in the beginning of the match. But our physical strength was better and we are more tactically mature team, which brought us the win."
Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said her team's inexperience was omnipresent in its World Cup debut.
"We saw different tactics at this level. They play many different ways, they play differently than how we do in Asia. We will play a different style in the next game," Srathongvian said through a translator.
Thailand had three shots on goal but even an early miss that would have given them the lead would not have changed the final outcome.
"It would not be that much different because we are playing with a superior team," said Srathongvian, whose team had lost 7-0 to Netherlands in a friendly earlier this year. "Getting the first goal would have been a morale boost more than anything."
Fans at Lansdowne Stadium were treated to many more goals later Sunday as two-time champion and top-ranked Germany played newcomer Ivory Coast. The German side led 5-0 at the half.
"There is going to be a transition period where the gap between the higher ranked and lower ranked teams is big. Playing at the World Cup will help that," Norway defender Nora Holstad said. "They have learned a lot since playing the Netherlands in January, they don't play as romantically. Just give them a couple of years."