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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Filipinas battle Indons for AFF semis slot

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The Philippines guns for a semifinal spot today (Sunday) against lightweight Indonesia in its penultimate match in Group A of the 12th Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium

Fresh from a methodical 4-0 triumph over Malaysia last Friday, the streaking Filipinas are the heavy favorites to prevail over the Indonesians, who are fifth in the standings with one point, in booking win No. 4 in their 7 p.m. clash to secure a ticket to the next round.

Finally getting its first win in a 4-0 romp over Indonesia two days ago, Australia aims to keep its bid to reach the semis afloat when it takes on Singapore at 4 p.m. earlier at the same arena, while Thailand plays Malaysia in the other group match at 7 p.m. at the Binan Stadium in Laguna.

Jessika Cowart of the Philippines tries to defend the ball against Mira Aidi and Jiciah Jumilis of Malaysia during their duel in the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship 2022 at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Pasay City. The Philippines won against Malaysia 4-0. DANNY PATA

The Thais, who trounced the Singaporeans 3-0, are running second behind the hosts with seven points, the Matildas are in third place with four points, the Malaysians fourth with two points, while the Indonesians and Singaporeans are fifth and sixth, respectively, with a point each.

As his wont, Australian coach Alen Stajcic is not taking the Indonesians lightly, pointing out that “we got to win that game (on Sunday) so we can get a chance and get a good place in the semifinals, and make sure that we go in there with a lot of confidence.”

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“We have a saying in Australia that we don’t want to put the cart ahead of the horse. It’s important that you don’t look far ahead of yourself, you have to stay humble and keep your feet on the ground,” he stressed at the post-match conference.

Left unsaid by Stajcic was the fact that a win by the Filipinas today will not only book their passage into the next round but also boost their confidence in their last group match against the four-time champion Thais on Tuesday in what likely will be a battle for group leadership.

The group topnotcher will also probably avoid a clash with defending champion Vietnam, which is in a tight battle with Myanmar for group honors in Group B.

Just like in the three previous matches, Stajcic will continue to fiddle with his roster in maintaining fresh legs for the all-important tussle with the Thais.

“This is the strength of the squad. We’ve proven the depth of the team. This also likewise ensures that there’s a good progression on the team and good competition for the places as well,” he explained of the internal rivalry among the players for final spots on the PH squad bound for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“The fact that everyone in this team knows their roles and responsibilities, it doesn’t matter who plays and no matter what position they play. Everyone knows their role and everyone tries to execute in the best way they can,” Stajcic said.

PFF thanks PSC for staging AFF Women’s Championship at Rizal Memorial Stadium (paki ni Atty. Ed)

PHILIPPINE Football Federation general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes yesterday thanked the Philippine Sports Commission for allowing the PFF to stage the Group A matches of the Filipinas in the 12th Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium

“On behalf of PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr., the PFF would like to express our gratitude to PSC executive director and officer-in-charge Atty. Guillermo Iroy for allowing the use of the Rizal Memorial Stadium as the main venue of the AFF Women’s Championship,” Gastanes said.

“Thanks to the collaboration and cooperation of the PSC, we are now able to bring the games of the Filipinas closer to their hometown fans, inspiring them to do better with each performance inside this heritage-rich football arena,” the PFF general secretary noted.

“The PFF and the PSC have been key partners in the promotion of the beautiful game in the country with the Rizal Memorial Stadium as the venue of the matches of our national teams, including the Azkals,” Gastanes added. “We continue to look forward to this fruitful partnership with the PSC.”

“We hope that our local fans will continue to flock to the Rizal Memorial Stadium in droves and cheer for the Filipinas, hopefully, all the way to the championship match while achieving another milestone for themselves and the country,” he exhorted.

Before the AFF Women’s Championship, the last time the historic venue was used for the sport was the 2019 30th Southeast Asian Games football men’s and women’s football tournaments.

Thanks to the animated rooting of the hometown crowd, which has been growing steadily in numbers with each passing day, the charges of Australian coach Alen Stajcic have remained in front of the pack in the highly-competitive Group A.

The Filipinas remained firmly on top of the group with nine points in crushing Malaysia 4-0 last Friday for their third straight shutout win, and can clinch the first semis seat should they beat Indonesia tomorrow, Sunday, in front of an anticipated well-attended weekend crowd.

(Rizal Memorial Stadium)
4 p.m. – Singapore vs. Australia
7 p.m. – Philippines vs. Indonesia
(Binan Stadium)
7 p.m. – Malaysia vs. Thailand

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