WOMEN'S ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERS - GROUP A: TAJIKISTAN 0-8 PHILIPPINES
Dushanbe: Goals from sisters Anicka and Sara Castañeda helped the Philippines beat Tajikistan 8-0 on Friday to record the Southeast Asian nation’s third win of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Group A qualifiers, and edge them ever closer to a spot at next year’s finals in Jordan.
The victory, which follows successive 4-0 defeats of the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, leaves an impressive Philippines side now needing only a point in their next game against Bahrain on Sunday to qualify for Jordan 2018.
Going into the encounter as firm favourites despite the Central Asians having home advantage, the Maltidas seemed determined to put the game to bed early, Anicka Castañeda shooting just over the bar, and the star trio of Eva Madarang, Irish Navaja and Hali Long all testing Tajikistan goalkeeper Sakhina Saidova within the first 15 minutes.
Not to be outdone, the lively Madarang duly broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, firing home from six yards to earn her side a deserved lead.
The impressive Saidova continued to impress, but she was unable to prevent Anicka Castañeda doubling her side’s advantage with a magnificent strike from just inside the penalty area, and Hali Long notching a third for the Philippines on 38 minutes.
With the Philippines continuing to dominate after the break, Sara Castañeda joined her sister Anicka on the scoresheet within minutes of the restart, before Hali Long scored twice to complete an admirable hat-trick on a day it appeared the Philippines could do little wrong.
Anicka Castañeda doubled her account in the 85th minute, finishing a fine Mary Duran pass, before Duran headed home an eighth and final goal for a rampant Philippines in the final moments.
Philippines head coach Letecia Bautista: “We could’ve controlled the game better and we were a bit erratic early on. We need to work on our passing and distribution. With the momentum we’re having right now we can go into the match on Monday with a positive attitude – but we don’t want to underestimate Bahrain. But before then we will enjoy Dushanbe, as we have two rest days tomorrow and Sunday. We will do some light exercises, have a tour of the city and on Sunday we will go back to the routine.”
Tajikistan head coach Bobokalonov Sulaymon: “The girls played well and we will learn from today’s match, work on our mistakes and try to improve. Our captain Natalia Sotnikova is our best player but we need more players like her in order to challenge teams like the Philippines. After this tournament player development is one thing we will concentrate on."