Filipinas battle Thailand in quest for historic trophy—and vengeance | Inquirer Sports
HUNGER GAME

Filipinas battle Thailand in quest for historic trophy—and vengeance

Filipinas after upsetting Vietnam in the AFF Women’s Championship 2022. -PFF PHOTO

Coach Alen Stajcic didn’t mince any words expressing his desire to get back at Thailand the best way possible—by giving the Philippines its first taste of silverware in the international women’s football scene.

“We’re looking forward to the final and realistically we can take a little bit of revenge out on Thailand after they beat us,” Stajcic said as the Filipinas aim to claim a breakthrough title in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship on Sunday.

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The match set at 7:30 p.m. inside the Rizal Memorial Stadium will see the hosts looking to add another memorable moment to a calendar year filled with historic achievements.

Confidence is at an all-time high after the gallant ladies did the unthinkable by not only beating favorite Vietnam in the semifinal, but beating them handily with a 4-0 result behind goals from Hali Long, Tahnai Annis and Sarina Bolden, who scored twice.

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But the team is far from satisfied, and lifting a trophy before its growing supporters will add another feather to the cap after qualifying for the Fifa (International Federation of Football Association) Women’s World Cup and a bronze medal finish in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“I’m greedy and I’m hungry for more and I know that there’s just a stepping stone again,” said Stajcic. “It’s another stepping stone for this team to continue growing and becoming better and better. And it’s important as we evolve to become better every single time we play.”

But they’ll try to do that against the squad known as the Chaba Kaew (a Thai word for female elephant), who handed the Philippines its lone defeat of the regional championship just five days prior.

Superb effortStajcic felt the Filipinas gave a superb effort against the Thais, except for a defensive miscue that enabled Kanyanat Chetthabutr to score the only goal of the match in the 75th minute.

Thailand marched its way to the final by way of a 2-0 win over Myanmar, with Kanyanat scoring the opener before halftime.

Kanyanat and the rest of the Thais are also motivated to take the trophy after its run of three straight AFF titles came to an end in 2019 with a loss to Vietnam on home soil.

Bolden, Long, Annis, Katrina Guillou and Isabella Flanigan, who all played major roles in the semis, are keen on completing the job, so is goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel after being one of the defenders who got caught in the miscue that resulted in Thailand’s goal in the previous match.

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“We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Bolden, the tournament’s leading scorer. “We’re not going to change anything up. We’re gonna stick to our principles, as coach always says.”

This would be the fourth meeting between the two countries this year, with Thailand winning twice, including the SEA Games semifinal, and the Philippines getting one during the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup.

But the latest battle will have a place in the winner’s podium at stake, something the Filipinas hope to step on once the referee blows the final whistle.

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TAGS: Filipinas, Football, Thailand
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