WOMEN'S ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERS - GROUP A: PHILIPPINES 4-0 IRAQ
Dushanbe: An impressive first half display helped the Philippines secure a 4-0 win over Iraq on Wednesday to continue the Southeast Asian side’s dominant start to their AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 qualifying campaign.
After Monday’s 4-0 success against the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines scored four times in a rampant first period to further enhance their chances of securing a ticket to next year’s finals, and virtually end the hopes of a resilient Iraqi side which succumbed to its second successive defeat.
Philippines started strongly at the Republican Central Stadium, with defender Claire Lim and forward Eva Madarang both testing Iraqi goalkeeper Khalat Asaad Mustafa from range, before Madarang burst beyond the Iraq defence to fire home and hand her side a 21st minute lead.
It was not to be all one-way traffic, however, Iraqi captain Nadia Fadhil coming close to levelling matters with a free-kick which sailed narrowly over the bar.
However, Iraq’s creditable resistance was to be well and truly undone courtesy of an incredible Philippines goalscoring spree shortly before the break.
First, Hali Long scored in the 44th minute with a powerful header from a corner to deservedly extend her side’s lead.
Moments later, Sara Castaneda made it three from inside the six-yard area, and in the third minute of added time, Alesa Nazareno Dolino converted a Madarang pass to effectively end the game as a contest.
Madarang then spurned a hat-trick of chances to further stretch the Philippines’ advantage and, with Iraq digging deep, Claire Lim hit the bar for the Philippines late on in what was to prove the game’s last meaningful action.
The Philippines are next in action on Friday when they are scheduled to face qualifying hosts Tajikistan, while Iraq will play Jordan.
Iraq head coach Adil Qader: “We lost the match because of the three goals we conceded in the five minutes before half-time. Philippines are a great team and although we lost the match, we are improving step by step. We hope that in the coming matches we will get some goals and points.”
Philippines head coach Letecia Bautista: “We have been trying to adapt to the weather and made some minor adjustments in attack ahead of today’s match. Still, in the second half we were able to control the ball but lacked the ability to finish. Everyone, including the Iraq team, played well today, I applaud them – they have improved since their first match, they played as a team today.”
Philippines goalscorer Eva Madarang: “I am happy about the goal I scored and helped the team so am pleased with today. I always like to have some background of the team we are playing so I did some research before this match, on their key players and especially the defenders.”