The Philippines tries to build on its stunning 1-0 win over fancied Australia last Monday night against lightly-regarded Singapore as Group A play resumes in the 12th AFF Women’s Championship at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium and the Binan Football Stadium in Laguna .
Hoping to draw a much bigger hometown crowd, the Filipinas eye their second straight win against the Singaporeans in Manila at 7 p.m. to fortify their share of top spot in the group of the tournament.
Still reeling from the reversal at the hands of the hosts two days ago, the Aussies try to regain lost ground when they face co-leader Thailand, which routed Indonesia 4-0 last Monday, in a pivotal clash between the two squads at 4 p.m. also at the same venue.
Over in Laguna, Malaysia guns for its first victory at the expense of Indonesia at 7 p.m. after settling for a scoreless draw with Singapore last Monday.
Ranked at an all-time high of No. 53 in the FIFA women’s world rankings, the charges of head coach Alen Stajcic are facing a Singaporean side 79 rungs lower than them at No. 132, and which they have beaten 3-0 and 4-0, respectively, in the last two editions of the competition.
But don’t expect the Filipinas to cut their rivals any slack in their drive to surpass their previous best of fourth-place in the AFF Women’s Championship in Chonburi, Thailand three years ago as part of their continuing build-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.
“Obviously (the win against Australia) was an amazing result against a team that has been ranked in the top 10 for the last 10 years. The performance of our players was first class,” noted Stajcic at the post-match press conference. “We really enjoyed the win but tomorrow it’s back to business.”
Veteran Sarina Bolden, who scored the match-winning goal in the second half, echoed the sentiments of her coach.
“This win is pretty special and shows how far the team has come. The last time I was here (in the 2019 30th Southeast Asian Games) was heart-breaking but now we started the tournament winning so it means so much,” said Bolden. “We just have to develop better because we have the World Cup coming up. We need to go as far as we can in this AFF tournament and continue to better ourselves.”
Both encouraged more Filipino fans to come out and show their support for the Filipinas, just like the close to 2,000 spectators who braved the rainy weather last Monday and animatedly rooted for them.
“This team really deserves a sell-out crowd and we have four more games in the group, plus the semis and finals if we make it there,” added Stajcic. “We need to fill the stadium and give the players the love they deserve.”
“They (the local fans) gave us energy but I want more Filipinos coming out to our games. We love the support we had today and we just want them to continue doing it,” furthered Bolden.