July 13, 2022

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Host Filipinas face the winner of Vietnam-Myanmar fight in semis

DESPITE the 1-0 heartbreaker to Thailand, Philippine coach Alen Stajcic feels the Filipinas turned in a generally fine performance during the battle for the Group A pennant, which they can build on heading to the AFF Women’s Championship semifinals.

“I thought that was a really good game,” said Mr. Stajcic, noting the good attacking and resilient defending overall in the rivalry game witnessed by a 2,923-strong crowd.

“It was probably the best football we played in the tournament, but unfortunately, we didn’t make our chances. But in terms of football on the pitch, I was pretty happy.”

Stats showed the Filipinas actually creating more scoring opportunities, 11 against eight, with five on target, one more than the Thais.

But it was the Thais who broke through in the 75th with Kanyanat Chetthabutr capitalizing on the defensive miscue by the Philippine backline to head in the winner.

“We played very well for nearly throughout the game but were punished by that one error. But that’s football, especially when you play against top quality opposition like Thailand,” said Mr. Stajcic.

“We also had four or five good chances, but we failed to complete them,” he added.

The Group A runner-up Filipinas hope to grow wiser from that slip-up as they’re set for a semifinal battle with the Group B topnotcher on Friday. That would be 2019 champion Vietnam or 2019 bronze medalist Myanmar, which were slated for a face-off in the final group game last night.

Either way, Mr. Stajcic sees a tough pairing.

“Vietnam and Myanmar played one less game than us (in the group stage) and they had an easier group so that’s a massive advantage for them,” said the Filipinas’ Australian mentor.

He was referring to the five-team field in Group B that also includes Laos, Cambodia and Timor-Leste as opposed to the Philippines and Thailand’s bracket that has Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with the combatants playing five games in a span of nine days.

“That’s extremely grueling. The fact that Vietnam and Myanmar had one game less really puts them at a big advantage (in the semis),” he said. — Olmin Leyba