Barring upsets, Malditas now hold Thailand’s and Australia’s fates in AFF championships

In a game that had the Malditas checking all the boxes, the hosts handed Singapore a 7-0 beating after a dominating performance on both ends of the field in Match Day 2 of the AFF Women’s Championships at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

So dominant was the Filipinas all throughout the game that a strike from beyond the box late in the game was Singapore’s only shot in the game.

FIRST STRIKE. Members of the PHL women’s team celebrate with Isabella Flannigan after she scores the first goal in the ninth minute.

After Sarina Bolden came close with a couple of early attempts, Isabella Flannigan opened the scoring, one-timing a lovely feed into the box to the top right corner. A minute later, captain Yahnai Annis’ feed got redirected for an own goal. The captain, returning to the starting lineup, was so effective at set plays that almost all her set pieces resulted into a shot at goal. And even when she wasn’t trying to, she got a goal.

A defender headed off a clearance but the ball hit Annis’ head and bounced back toward the goal, making it 3-0. In the 35th, a potential Annis-Bolden connection was foiled by a last-ditch clearance, but two minutes later there was no stopping the two. Annis collected the ball at right flank, took a brief glance at Bolden and a perfect in-swinging cross connected with Bolden, who made no mistake from inside the six-yard box.

Anna Castaneda, Chantelle Maniti and Tara Shelton came it at half time for Dominque Randle, Hali Long and Sarina Bolden but such is the depth of the squad that there was no letup on both ends.

In the 46th, Singapore failed to clear a corner, resulting to a weak shot by Castaneda, however the keeper failed to collect it, giving Sara Eggesvik an open shot, 5-0. Eggesvik could have added another 13 minutes later but she skied an open shot off a feed by Castaneda.

In the 56th, another perfect corner by Annis resulted to a free header by Kaya Hawkinson, who barreled through the defense to make it 6-0.

Singapore finally made a rare move in the 64th, calling in Noor Rosman for the starting keeper, but just five minutes in, Carleigh Frilles, who came in for Annis in the 58th, said hello to the sub keeper with a powerful shot inside the box. Roosman deflected the shot but Castaneda had no trouble banging in the rebound.

With the win, the Malditas took over the top spot in the Group from Thailand with six points as the Thais dropped to second with four after a 2-2 draw with Australia. Indonesia, which lost to Thailand, 4-0 on opening day, drew Malaysia, 1-1, in the other Group A game.

Barring any upset, Australia should sweep its remaining matches against Indonesia on July 8, Singapore on July 10 and Malaysia on July 12, while both the Philippines (vs. Malaysia on July 8 and Indonesia on July 10) and Thailand (vs. Singapore on July 8 and Malaysia on July 10) will have it easy in the next two rounds before they face each other on July 12.

Australia U23111-1

Under that scenario, the Philippines would be assured of a semis spot at 12 points, while Australia will gunning for the Filipinas’ win over Thailand to finish second on goal difference. A draw will see the Philippines and Thailand finishing as No. 1 and No. 2 while a win by the Thais will see them take the top spot, leaving the Philippines to face Group B’s No. 1 in the semis, which is expected to be Vietnam.

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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