AFF Women’s Championship: Young Australia side ‘still favorite’ says Filipinas’ Stajcic
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine women’s football team opens its Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship campaign against Australia under 23 team on Monday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The match is set at 7 p.m.
National team coach Alen Stajcic stressed that Australia is still formidable despite fielding a young squad.
“Australia probably got more depth than most of the countries in Southeast Asia. They’ve been ranked in the top ten for the last 10 years or so. They are there for a reason, being one of the stronger nations in the region,” said Stajcic in the prematch press conference on Sunday.
“So no doubt they are probably still the favorite for this tournament, regardless of who they brought whether they are under 23 or 24 or 22.”
The last time the Filipinas played the Matildas, they lost 4-0 in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. But only one player from Australia, Charli Grant, will be playing in the AFF tournament.
“I’ve seen a lot of these kids grow up including some of the 16-year-olds that they have in the squad now. They’re a very good squad. It’s gonna be a good experience for our team,” Stajcic said.
In the past seven months, the women’s national team made history by qualifying in the Fifa Women’s World Cup and winning its first bronze medal since 1985 in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam last May.
The Filipinas also had a fruitful training camp in Turkey and Brezice, Slovenia, where they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina twice in international friendlies and lost to Ireland, 0-1.
Leading the way for the national team, Quinley Quezada, who has the most goals with 16 in 30 international caps, as well as Sarina Bolden, Katrina Guillou, and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel.
Australia coach Melissa Andreatta is excited to face Stajcic, who once called the shots for the Matildas in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
“The Philippines is the team that is continuing to build. With that group of players, we look forward to again a highly-competitive, tactical game. I think on the day, it’s going to be the team that competes the most and sticks to the game plan and converts their chances to take the win,” said Andreatta.
Larissa Crummer and Matilda McNamara are expected to lead the young Australia team, which last appeared in AFF 2018 with its u20 team finishing as runner-up.