The level of play has been raised again after the Philippines booked a historic spot in the Asian Football Confederation(AFC) Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 quarter-finals, and a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup now beckons.
The Philippine Malditas national women’s football team overcame their jitters in the first half and played with more confidence in the last 45 minutes to get past Indonesia for an unforgettable 6-0 beating on Thursday evening at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.
“The team just keeps raising the bar every time you do something new, and create a lot of history, and creating a new ceiling for the team,” said Malditas coach Alen Stajcic after the Philippines finished second in Group B with their second triumph against a loss
The Malditas, led by skipper Tahnnai Annis with two goals, completed their group stage campaign with six points, three behind Australia. They will have a great chance to improve when they clash with Chinese-Taipei in the quarter-final Sunday night.
It was the Philippines’ first win over the Indonesians, who scored a similar 6-0 triumph over the Filipina booters back in 2013 during the group stage of the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship.
And their hard work has put the Malditas closer to one of five berths in the FIFA World Cup 2022, and this is what’s in store for the tournament’s top finishers.
“The first time was Thailand. Now we have two matches in the Asian Cup that were won for the first time in history,” added Stajcic in a post-game press conference live-streamed on Webex.
The former Australian Matildas coach noted that the Philippines will be in the quarterfinals for the first time, and in contention for their first ever slot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Philippines went to work early and pressured Indonesia from the start, and were awarded a penalty as early as the fourth minute when Vivi Oktavia Riski got fouled for a handball.
Katrina Guillou’s penalty shot was off, but she redeemed herself in the sixth minute when Guilliou picked up Carleigh Frilles’ cross and slotted it past Indonesia goalkeeper Riska Apriia.
The score doubled the Philippines’ lead in the 27th minute when Sarina Bolden jumped and headed in a pass from Jessica Miclat from inside the penalty box.
“So, you get a performance like that with two and a half games of good football, you keep raising the feeling and expectation of what you can achieve,” said Stajcic.
The Philippines went on the offensive in the second half and probed the Indonesian backline for more goals.
And the Philippines got another chance in the 56th minute, with Annis responding to a blocked attempt by Chandler McDaniel. As the ball bounced back to the middle from the right side of the box, the Filipina skipper flicked in a 30-meter volley which bounced to the back of the net.
A fourth goal came for the Philippines off another penalty shot in the 73rd minute, following Amiatun’s foul on Dominque Randle. Jessica Miclat easily sent it the penalty attempt.
“We came back with a bit more purpose and composure in the second half. And I think that really showed,” said Annis.
Annis made her second marker in the 83rd minute with a blast from 20 meters out, and Malea Louise Cesar rushed the net in the fourth minute of added time for the Malditas’ last goal.
Stajcic is hopeful that the Malditas will live up to expectations in their Sunday encounter at 7:30 p.m.(10 p.m. in Manila) with Chinese-Taipei, which last played in the FIFA World Cup in 1991.
Both the Malditas and Chinese-Taipei will not only seek a place in the semifinals, they will also fight for one of five available Asian seats to the 2022 FIFA World that will be awarded to the winner of the quarterfinals and the repechage round.
Stajcic added that their clash with the Taiwanese booters will be an interesting game to watch.
“For both teams, it’s the pressure. Chinese-Taipei has not been in the World Cup for a long time. The Philippines has never played them on the field. It’s gonna be about nerves. The team that handles it better will start well. But, that does not mean you will finish better,” said Stajcic.
Chinese-Taipei reached the quarterfinals with their 5-0 blasting of Iran in Group A to enter the round of eight with China.
Meanwhile, Australia swept its three-game assignment in Group B with a 2-1 win over Thailand Thailand at Mumbai Football Arena.
Australia will cross paths with the Korea Republic in the quarterfinals while Thailand takes on Japan.