The Philippine Girls Under-15 national team clinched a spot in the AFF Under-15 Girls Final following a gutt-wrenching 3-2 win over Myanmar yesterday at the KM16 National Stadium in Vientiane, Laos.
Myria Garcia scored twice, including the winning goal that sent the Philippines through to the final where Thailand awaits them.
It was the Philippines fourth straight win of the tournament. The Girls topped Group B in the group stages by beating Indonesia, Cambodia, and Singapore to advance to the knockout stages.
However, unlike the group stage, the match against Myanmar gave them a stern test.
Garcia broke the deadlock at the stroke of half-time. The midfielder finished off the chance from Katelyn Alexander’s cross to put the Philippines ahead 1-0 up at the half.
The second half was a different story as Myanmar found their form. Pyae Kyaw levelled the match in the 47th minute and took the lead five minutes later.
Despite the going a goal down for the first time in the tournament, the Philippines mounted a comeback against their opponents. Viviana Cera made it 2-2 in the 57th minute to set up a thrilling finish.
Garcia won it for the Philippines with just four minutes left in regulation. The midfielder scored her third goal of the tournament with a well taken strike from 20 yards out to claim the win.
Coach Marielle Benitez lauded the effort of the girls to win the match despite being a goal down in the second half.
“The girls did a great job, they didn’t give up and bounced back after being down 2-1,” said Benitez. “It was a matter of wanting it more.”
PFF General Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes saw the win as another landmark moment for Women’s football.
“This group of players have been impressive,” said Gastanes. “Last year this same team went to the final (in the Under-14), but we hope a year later, they finally win it all.”
The AFF Girls Under-15 Final between the Philippines and Thailand is on Saturday 20 May at the KM16 National Stadium. Kick off is at 6:30 PM local time (7:30 PM Manila time).