The Philippine U15 Girls Team claimed the top spot in Group A of the Asian Football Confederation Regional Championship for Southeast Asia after stunning Cambodia 5-0 on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at the Thong Nhat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
Advancing to the semi-finals undefeated, the Philippines garnered 9 points (3 wins) followed by Vietnam with 6 points (2 wins, 1 loss). The Philippines also scored the most goals with 12, with a clean sheet for goals against, yellow and red cards.
After gaining confidence from their first two victories against Singapore 6-0 and Vietnam 1-0 in the first two matches, the young Filipina players concluded their group stage matches with a 5-0 clincher against Cambodia. Joyce Semacio, who also scored against Singapore, broke the ice on the 26th minute with her opening goal. Itsuko Bacatan, also a goal scorer from the Singapore match, followed this on the 44th minute. Lindsay Whaley, who scored the lone goal against Vietnam, claimed her 2nd record on the 56th minute, followed by an own goal by an own goal by the Cambodian defenders. Chloe Hails, from Bacolod City, claimed her first goal on the 67th.
According to Coach Let Dimzon, the match wasn’t an easy one especially in the first half, but the girls were able to adjust and convert their attempts eventually. “Cambodia gave us a hard time in the attack during the first half. They were suppressing Trebol and Semaco to stop the distribution in front. At first our girls were pressured, rushing to score even if the space was too tight but they were able to adjust before the end of the 1st half. This was a good result for the elimination round. Our girls wanted to secure our spot at the top of the group,” she said.
The semi-finals stage of the tournament will see the Philippines play against Myanmar on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 16:00 and Vietnam against Thailand at 18:30. Myanmar ranks 2nd in Group B with 1 win against Malaysia 1-0. Thailand tops Group B with two wins—against Malaysia 1-0 and Myanmar 5-0.
Asked about the moving force behind the team’s success, she said that “the challenge and motivation of being the only team to beat Vietnam in the history of Philippine women’s football helped pushed them to not to stop, until they reach the finals. Although our girls are not tactically experienced, they perform very well when given their tasks.”
For the semi-finals, Coach Dimzon expects Myanmar to be a good match-up. “Myanmar is not that far in terms of the level of technical and tactical understanding compared to our team. Their strength is stamina and physical contact. We will strengthen our defense and work out a more collective attack to be able to get the best results for this match. We will definitely do our best to get this game,” she concluded.
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is proud with the team’s emergence as the top contender in the tournament, despite the short preparation to scout the players from various provinces and train the team together. PFF Officials are hopeful that the youngest national female football squad will bring home high honors for the country.
“Topping the group undefeated is a very impressive achievement. We are celebrating their victories like proud parents, and we wish them all the best in the final round. Despite their very young age, these girls are already showing the kind of fighting spirit that we want to see in all our national teams. This for sure, is a promising team that should be molded further, and developed fully, both as future senior national team players, and ambassadors of women’s football in the country,” said PFF President Mariano Araneta.
PFF General Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes commended the coaching staff for a job well done thus far. “We congratulate Head Coach Dimzon, together with Assistant Coaches Joyce Landagan and Melissa Marquez for doing a good job preparing and guiding our young ladies. Advancing to the semi-finals is a big step that only shows excellent management from the coaches. Keep it up and we hope for the best in the finals” said Atty. Gastanes.