The Philippine Women’s National Football Team had a mission when they first set out for the AFF Women’s Championship 2019: Get three wins and reach the semifinals.
And they did just that after blanking Singapore 4-0 to clinch the country’s ticket to the final four, Friday afternoon in Chonburi, Thailand.
The nationals’ win over Singapore – coupled with Malaysia’s loss – propelled the Philippines into the AFF knockout phase for the very first time since the tournament’s inception in 2004.
“Good effort from our team to win this game. We didn’t use our usual eleven just to rest them [just in case]. We’re happy with the result because even though this is not our strongest team, they were able to handle the game and able to score too,” said head coach Let Dimzon.
The match was barely underway when the Filipinas already put themselves on the scoreboard. Sara Castañeda played a fantastic cross ahead to Alisha Del Campo, who outran the entire Singaporean backline. She even nutmegged keeper Beatrice Tan Li Bin for the opening minute goal.
Five minutes later, Hazel Lustan threaded the needle for a pass to Quinley Quezada. The sensation from the Thailand match then doubled the Philippine advantage.
Right before the break, Lustan was instrumental again. She initiated a play that sent substitute Dionesa Tolentin barreling into the box, only for Tan Li Bin to swat away her shot. But a prowling Del Campo gathered the rebound to put the ball away and further cushion the Philippine lead.
Five minutes after the restart, Del Campo continued to embarrass Tan Li Bin. The UAAP Season 81 top striker pounced on an ill-timed Singaporean back pass for an easy tap-in and a hat-trick in the process.
The Filipinas continued to dictate play with a few more chances to increase the lead, though none coming through. Still, with a radically different lineup from previous matches, this was already a big success.
The coach will have a full day to prepare for Group B leader Vietnam. The match takes place on Sunday, August 25 at 4:00 pm.
“Going into the semifinals, we need to prepare more since we are playing against Vietnam, which is stronger and faster. So we have to prepare our tactics in how to cope with them,” Dimzon added.
Singapore XI: Tan Li Bin, Dhaniyah, Siti (C), Ho Hui, Nur Umairah, Nur Syazwani (Suria Priya), Ernie, Nur Izzati (Lim), Danelle, Nur Faradila (Siti Wan), Yip-Au
Philippines XI: Cavill, Shelton, Long (C), Hodges, Bernal, Navaja, Castañeda (Fagsao), Inquig, Lustan, Quezada (Tolentin), Del Campo (Mendaño)