By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA – In what could be the first big good news for Philippine sports in 2022, the country’s women’s football team finally solved the mystery that is Thailand.
The Filipina booters beat their Thai counterparts for the first time in their head-to-head meetings through a 1-0 win at the start of their campaigns in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup (WAC) at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, India on Friday night.
All it took for the squad, formerly known by the moniker Malditas, to slay the perennial Southeast Asian football giant was some luck.
Chandler McDaniel found an opening from the right elbow and went for the 81st-minute attempt.
Waraporn Boonsing appeared to have saved the ball from going in, but she fumbled it and it rolled into the goalmouth. Her tap-out came too late as it was already way inside the goal line.
While it was more of a lucky strike, the goal put into fruition a solid performance by the Philippine squad that saw their supposed opening goal disallowed due to the offside infraction and another attempt that hit the crossbar before sailing out.
Thailand stepped on the gas in the final minutes looking to at least salvage a draw, but the Philippine defense held fort.
The win was the first time the Philippines edged Thailand in 13 tries overall.
“That’s a massive win,” Coach Alen Stajcic said after the match.
Up next for the Philippine team is a huge showdown against Australia at the Mumbai Football Arena on Monday, which, by the looks of it, might decide which team will finish on top of Group B after the group stages.
Australia sent a strong message to the entire AFC WAC field with an 18-0 bludgeoning of Indonesia earlier Friday. (PNA)