PH booters keep Group A lead after blanking Malaysia | Inquirer Sports
GOING STRONG

PH booters keep Group A lead after blanking Malaysia

Philippine women's football team coach Alen Stajcic

Philippine women’s football team coach Alen Stajcic. AFC PHOTO

The Philippines collected another three points that put it closer to a semifinals berth in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship, but coach Alen Stajcic said the 4-0 victory over Malaysia on Friday didn’t reflect the way the match was played.

“[It’s a] very tough game to play, soft start and very frustrating,” Stajcic said after the match which saw the Filipinas maintain top spot in Group A of the regional championship.

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A stark contrast to its 7-0 mastery of Singapore two nights earlier, the Philippines had to sweat this one out against a determined Malaysian defense before getting the opening goal before about 400 fans at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

And it took 32 minutes before Sara Eggesvik, an early substitute, put in the opening goal that eventually led to Player of the Match honors after the final whistle.

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Katrina Guillou doubled the lead before halftime while Quinley Quezada and Anicka Castañeda, all assisted by Eggesvik, scored in the second half to make the scoreline convincing.

“[It’s] those games of football when you want flow and rhythm, the other team wants to stop the game every two seconds. Very frustrating,” said Stajcic. “But you know, we tried hard, we played some good football in patches, but not an easy game to play, that’s for sure.”

Forehead lump

With three wins out of three, the Philippines is almost sure of reaching the last four, with Indonesia, another team at the bottom of the table, next on the schedule on Sunday.

Eggesvik perhaps highlighted Stajcic’s need for every player to step up in the competition, even if she had to come on 10 minutes into the match after Kaya Hawkinson sustained a lump on her forehead.

The 25-year-old based in Norway fired a long strike that beat Malaysian goalkeeper Nurul Azurin and put the hosts ahead, making it two goals already in her young career with the Filipinas.

Azurin, whose quick reflexes allowed her to get a hand on Eggesvik’s strike, tried to argue that the goal should be disallowed since she felt that the ball didn’t go past the line. Referee Thein Thein Aye of Myanmar, however, stood by her decision.

Guillou made it 2-0 in the 43rd, rebounding Tahnai Annis’ shot that was batted by Azurin before Eggesvik set up the two second half goals, both of which were headers.

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Quezada produced her 17th international goal in the 47th before Castañeda scored for the second time in the tournament during the 72nd.

“I wasn’t ready to go in, it was all sudden. But I’m glad to get the opportunity,” Eggesvik said.

Clean sheet

It was another clean sheet for the Philippines, with Kiara Fontanilla getting the chance this time after Olivia McDaniel manned the posts against Australia and veteran Inna Palacios took care of goalkeeping chores opposite Singapore.

Fontanilla was one of eight new starters, with Sarina Bolden, Jessica Miclat, Hali Long and Dom Randle given rest after getting the nod in the previous two matches.

Australia added to Indonesia’s woes when it finally scored its first win, a 4-0 rout earlier in the day.

Amy Sayer, the Matildas’ ace midfielder, produced all four goals for the Aussies in a scintillating display for a team that had been held to just a point in its first two games.

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TAGS: Alen Stajcic, Asean Football Federation, Malaysia
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