More fresh faces up for Filipinas in battle vs lightweight Malaysia
The Philippines will likely tinker its starting lineup once more with the aim of giving everyone the opportunity to have an imprint in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship.
“It’s very important in a tournament like this … that everyone contributes,” said coach Alen Stajcic as the Filipinas take on Malaysia on Friday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
On top of Group A with two victories out of two games for six points, the national booters attempt to close in on a semifinals berth at 7 p.m. opposite a Malaysian side that drew its first two assignments.
A result almost similar to the 7-0 drubbing of Singapore two nights earlier could be in the offing for the Filipinas, even if Stajcic is seen to field a different set of players on the pitch.
“[W]e’re pleased that we could rotate a lot of new players into the team and we’re going to continue to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to put their hand up for a spot in the team long term,” said the Australian mentor.
Stajcic made seven changes from the squad that started during the hard-fought 1-0 win over Australia in the tournament opener, with first-choice goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel among those getting a breather.
Some of the new starters got themselves on goal tally in Sara Eggesvik and Kaya Hawkinson, who both scored for the first time wearing the Philippine colors.
Tahnai Annis also got the start, even being given the task to wear the captain’s armband, and came through with a goal in the 19th minute and an assist that led to a Sarina Bolden header.
Bolden, the hero of the Australia match, and Player of the Match Jessica Miclat were among the four players retained in the starting 11 against Singapore.
“We’ve got a big squad and it’s important that everyone contributes to this tournament, where they can come out on top,” said Stajcic.
Malaysia will be the second of three straight games against perceived lightweights, with Indonesia bringing up the rear on Sunday.
The Filipinas wrap up the group stage on Tuesday against Thailand, currently second in the standings with four points on one win and one draw.