Dushanbe: Philippines head coach Letecia Bautista believes her side’s current momentum may yet prove decisive when they face Bahrain on Monday in a game which could see the Southeast Asians qualify for the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
With Group A leaders Jordan already assured of qualification thanks to the hosting duties they will perform at the continental gathering, second-placed Philippines approach their latest test knowing that a draw would be enough for them to qualify.
Having seen her side notch up three successive in Tajikistan, Bautista believes the Maltidas’ current form should hold them in good stead.
“We have the momentum. We have a positive attitude going into that game,” she said, adding that the Philippines would not underestimate the threat posed by their West Asian opponents.
Meanwhile, Bahrain head coach Khaled Mohamed Harban is hoping that his charges can develop a more ruthless edge than they displayed in their previous outing against the United Arab Emirates, something they will have to do if they are to stand any chance of overhauling the Philippines.
“It is a big match. The Philippines are a good team but we have a chance against them, although it will be tough. The girls needed to rest well after their three matches and we will go into Monday refreshed. We will have more to our game against the Philippines than in our previous matches.”
Elsewhere, current Group leaders Jordan have no intention of relinquishing top spot, with coach Maher Abu Hantash set to use a tried and tested strategy against Tajikistan.
“We will play to score and I will involve more players from the bench,” he explained.
After one win and two defeats hosts Tajikistan find themselves unable to progress, but head coach Bobokalonov Sulaymon has urged his troops to up their game and play without fear against the impressive Jordanians.
“We will play better,” he declared. “The most important thing is not to be afraid. We will play as we usually do.”
The group’s other game on Monday pits rock bottom Iraq against the UAE who are in fifth spot - two sides who now have nothing but pride left to play for.