The Philippine Girls Under-15 National Team claimed second place in the AFF Girls Under-15 Championship after bowing to Thailand, 6-2, last night at the KM16 Stadium in Vientiane, Laos.
The final pitted the Philippines and a Thailand side that had swept through the competition. It was also the rematch of last year’s AFC Girls Under-14 Regionals which Thailand won 1-0.
Both teams started the match positively in an effort to take the early lead. It was Thailand that broke the ice in the 12th minute.
The Philippines reacted well after the goal and drew level five minutes later. Myria Garcia rifled a shot from outside the box for the equalizing goal. However, Thailand showed their class by scoring two quick goals in the 22nd and 30th minutes.
Despite the two-goal disadvantage, the Philippines clawed their way back and and made it 2-3 at the stroke of half-time. Viviana Cera sent in a shot to give the Philippines a fighting chance in front of a strong Filipino community led by the players’ family and the Philippine Embassy.
But Thailand flipped a switch in the second half and scored three more goals, with the match ending in a 6-2 scoreline.
Despite losing to the same opposition for the second straight year, Philippines head coach Marielle Benitez took pride in the team’s performance throughout the tournament.
“Overall, I’m very happy with the performance of the girls,” said Benitez. “To be able to make it to the finals for two consecutive years, is an achievement by itself. The whole campaign was a learning experience for all of us and I am confident that we will only get better (in the future).”
PFF General-Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes, who was in Vientiane not only to support the Girls in the Final, but also attend on the AFF Congress and AFF Council meetings held on the same day of the final, had nothing but praises for the team.
“Even though our team lost in the final, they have shown heart and courage during the tournament,” said Gastanes. “This is the continuation of what we started last year and we will just keep on improving moving forward.”