Stajcic praises PH’s ‘exceptional’ defensive effort in win over Thailand

Philippines celebrates after scoring a goal over Thailand in the AFC Women's Asian Cup.

Philippines celebrates after scoring a goal over Thailand in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. AFC PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—National women’s football team coach Alen Stajcic lauded his players’ “exceptional” defensive efforts in the Philippines’ upset of Thailand in their opening match in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup Friday.

Despite allowing Thailand to hold possession for much of the match, the Filipinos kept their formation intact and prevented as little opportunity inside the penalty area en route to the 1-0 victory.

“Lots of things went right on the field. Our defensive effort was exceptional. We didn’t give in to the three or four [second] half chances,” said Stajcic during the post-match press conference. “Upfront, we created six or seven goal opportunities but we actually scored off maybe the luckiest chance.”

Chandler McDaniel found the breakthrough in the 81st minute when she launched one from outside the penalty area.

Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing initially caught McDaniel’s shot but mishandled it allowing the ball to get past the line.

While McDaniel pushed the Philippines to victory–the country’s first against Thailand in 13 meetings–her sister Olivia held the Filipinos’ defense.

“We know how much danger [Thailand] has upfront, just the quality they’ve got has got them to the last two World Cups,” said Stajnic. “Again, exceptional defensive effort. Hali Long at the back and Olivia was outstanding.”

Olivia saved five shots, as Thailand held possession for 63.5 percent of the match, one of which was Miranda Nildhamrong’s screamer just minutes after her sister’s goal.

Defender Hali Long also prevented another Thai opportunity well into stoppage time when she succeeded on a dangerous tackle to kick the ball past the byline.

The Philippines faces Australia, which Stajcic previously coached, on Monday.

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