Asian football

PH women battle Indonesia, eye AFC Asian Cup quarters slot

Juro Morilla
PH women battle Indonesia, eye AFC Asian Cup quarters slot

FIGHTING FORM. Sara Castaneda (No. 12) and the Philippine women's football team hope to make tournament history.

ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION

The Philippines, sitting at second in Group B, looks to advance to the next round of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup

MANILA, Philippines – After splitting its first two matches in the group stage, the Philippine women’s football team will have one more chance to book a spot in the quarterfinal round of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022.

The Philippines, running second in Group B, hopes to secure a berth when it battles Indonesia at 10 pm on Thursday, January 27, at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India. 

The Filipinas snatched a late goal versus world No. 38 Thailand and held on for a 1-0 win in the curtain-raiser last January 21. 

Still showing fine form, the Philippines next held world No. 11 Australia scoreless in the first half of their duel last January 24. But the national crew succumbed to a 4-0 defeat at full time as the Matildas finally found a crack in the Filipinas’ impressive defense. 

After the match, Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson said the Philippines is a team to “watch out” for in this year’s tournament as the Filipinas look to go deep in their campaign and also claim a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 berth.

Only the top two teams in the three groups alongside the two best third-placers will advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament, which also serves as a qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Australia is on top of Group B with 6 points and a +22 goal difference, followed by the Philippines with 3 points and -3 goal difference.

Thailand sits at third with 3 points as well and a +3 goal difference, but loses the tiebreaker to the Philippines. World No. 94 Indonesia resides at the bottom of the group with 0 points and a -22 goal difference.

A victory against Indonesia is the best case scenario for thePhilippines as it won’t have to worry about other results. But a draw coupled by two favorable scenarios from the Australia and Thailand match on Thursday will still see the world No. 64 Filipinas stay at second place and proceed to the quarterfinal stage.

If the Filipinas draw versus the Indonesians, they will need the Australians to either win or draw against the Thais to secure a quarterfinal slot.

The worst-case scenario for the Philippines is a loss against Indonesia coupled by either a Thailand win or draw as it will see the Filipinas fall to fourth in the group.

Aside from Asian Cup glory, the Philippines can also earn a spot in next year’s World Cup as five automatic slots are up for grabs in the tournament. 

If Australia, the World Cup 2023 co-host, winds up in the top five of the Asian Cup, the sixth-best team in the tournament will receive a spot in the most prestigious women’s football tournament.

With the Filipinas a step closer in nailing a maiden World Cup berth, Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic said the players often talk about wanting to change the game and being a positive influence for the next generation.

“There’s a lot of hard work to be done between now and qualifying, but you know hopefully we can give the Philippines and all the players back home – young boys and young girls – some inspiration and hope that they can play World Cups in the future,” said Stajcic. – Rappler.com