Philippines open ASEAN Women’s Tournament against Matildas

FILIPINAS training under the watchful eye of Alen Stajcic. —PFF

HOST Philippines immediately tests themselves in the AFF Women’s Championship as they open their campaign against the Australian Under-23 (U23) side on Monday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Philippines will face Australia, the 2008 winners, at 7 p.m., determined to make the most of their home advantage and home crowd support to get off to a winning start in Group A.

The Group A kick-off match between Singapore and Malaysia at 4 p.m. will also be featured on Matchday 1 at Rizal.

The historic Filipino kickers are playing on home soil for the first time since clinching a ticket to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year and clinching bronze at the Southeast Asian Games last May .

There’s no shortage of motivation for Alen Stajcic’s accusations to perform at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) showpiece July 4-17.

“We’ve been to the European subcontinent, Australia and North America during my seven months on the team. There’s been a lot of leadership and growth. We’re looking forward to the next chapter and playing at home is something special,” said Stajcic.

“Since we play everywhere, we really don’t have the home advantage. Everyone is excited for that. All the support will help us in the long tournament. Everyone is excited and honored to play in the Philippines,” said skipper Tahnai Annis.

The Philippines, whose best result was fourth in the 2019 edition in Thailand, are coming off a productive build-up in Slovenia, where they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in two friendlies, 3-0 and 2-1.

After the U23 Matildas, the host team faces Singapore (July 6), Malaysia (July 8), Indonesia (July 10) and four-time champions Thailand (July 12). The objective is to finish in the Top 2 of the group to reach the round of 16.

The other group consists of defending champion Vietnam, 2019 bronze medalist Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Laos. — Olmin Leyba

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