They might, for example, end up losing 10-0 as Côte d’Ivoire did in their first match at Canada 2015. Despite the fact that the Africans were completely outclassed by Germany and suffered a resounding defeat, Dominique Thiamale refused to let the result overshadow the unique sensation of her first World Cup match.
The 5'5 shot-stopper was amazed by the well-deserved cheers she received from the crowd in Ottawa. “The way the fans supported us was fantastic,” she said. “The atmosphere was incredible, and the people here are all so warm-hearted.” There is no longer any doubt that this Canadian adventure is proving to be extremely enjoyable for Thiamale, who added that the last few months of preparation have been “a real pleasure”.
Starting over against Thailand
The team’s primary objective now is to ensure that this adventure does not end prematurely. The Africans need to beat Thailand to have any chance of extending their stay in North America and progressing to the last 16. To do this, it is vital that the players pick themselves up again after their opening defeat – something captain Thiamale turned her attention to immediately after the Germany game. “I told them that nothing is lost. Although we lost the match, there are still two more so we’ve got to keep our heads up. Everything is still possible.”
She also summed up the strategy for the next game, saying: “We’ve got to beat Thailand no matter what, even though it certainly won’t be easy!” After all, their Asian opponents also have a point to prove after losing 4-0 to Norway in their first group match. Thiamale is aware of this fact and keen to keep spurring her team on, making her not only a true leader but also a key point of contact for the head coach. “She motivates the squad, looks after the young players and helps me out a great deal,” coach Clementine Toure told FIFA.com. “She’s like an assistant coach, and thanks to her I always know what’s going on within the side.”
Although it is somewhat unusual for a goalkeeper to wear the shirt No16, it somehow fits neatly with the path Thiamale has taken to get here. The student was originally an outfield player and only tends goal today because her team’s usual keeper once failed to turn up for a match. “I said I’d go in goal instead, and that’s how it started,” she recalled. “It was just an accident really.”
While she might have become a goalkeeper by chance, it is one that has led to great success and given Thiamale the opportunity to soak up every moment of her World Cup experience.