By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
An improved Philippine women’s side yielded to powerhouse Myanmar, 0-2, in controversial fashion Monday in the AFF Women’s Championship at the National Stadium in Vientiane, Laos.
Playing their first international match in two years, the Malditas fell behind in the fourth minute and were down 0-2 by halftime, before holding their ground in the second half—a performance they will try to build on when they face Thailand at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Natasha Alquiros couldn’t make the most of the Malditas’ best chance in the 30th minute when her shot only flew inches above the crossbar, before the Malditas were denied a penalty for a Myanmar handball in the second half.
The result left Malditas coach Ernie Nierras enraged, claiming that Myanmar’s first goal was offside and his team should have been given a penalty for the blatant handball.
“I’m pissed, the girls are pissed,” Nierras said. “We would have won this game. I would not be upset if Myanmar was totally superior.”
Nierras said his players looked a little jittery in the first half, but “did quite better offensively in the second and even had a few good attempts.”
“The second half was ours,” he said. “Myanmar ran out of steam. Our girls kept attacking until the final whistle. Myanmar couldn’t even get out of its own half in the final 10 minutes.”
Even Myanmar coach Yoshinori Kumada was surprised at the Malditas’ gallant stand.
“Sure we were expecting to score lots of goals but the Philippines have improved a lot and that made it tough for us,” said Kumada in an article on aseanfootball.org.
The Malditas have no recourse but to beat Thailand and win via a big margin against Malaysia in their last group match to stand a chance of moving into the semifinals.
Only the top two teams from each group will advance to the last four.
“If Thailand wants to win this game, they would have to take it from us,” said Nierras.