The quest for regional supremacy continues for the Philippine Men’s National Team as they face Vietnam in the semifinal round of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
The first leg will be held this coming Sunday 2 December 2018 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Kick off time is at 7:30 PM.
It is the Azkals’ fourth time in the semifinals having advanced in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The Philippines join defending champions Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia in the knockout stages which begin this weekend.
The Philippines finished the group stage with 8 points having collected two wins, against Singapore and Timor Leste, and two draws, against Thailand and Indonesia.
“We know what this team, the Men’s National Team is capable of,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. “We have reached the semifinals for the fourth time and once again we call all football fans and stakeholders to show your support as the team bids for a spot in the final.”
“It feels good, we missed the semifinal the last time we hosted. The players are motivated and we hope everyone in the Philippines is happy with the achievement. We look forward to face Vietnam in the semifinals,” said team manager Dan Palami. “We have to credit the heart of the players who give their all every time they are on the pitch.”
The Philippines made their mark with a 2-0 win against Vietnam in 2010 in Hanoi, and followed it up by a 1-0 win in Bangkok. Their last meeting in 2014 saw Vietnam win 3-1 in Hanoi.
Match tickets will be sold at all SM Tickets outlets beginning Wednesday 28 November 2018. The purchased tickets from SM Tickets must be swapped for the actual match ticket to enter the stadium.
Ticket swapping will be held on Saturday 1 December and Sunday 2 December 2018 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium starting at 3:00 PM .
Jakarta: The Philippines continued their unbeaten run at this year's AFF Suzuki Cup and secured a berth in the semi finals after a 0-0 draw with Indonesia on Sunday.
The Azkals, who have advanced to the semi final on three previous occasions, knew a draw in the Indonesian capital would be enough to secure their spot in the knockout rounds, while Indonesia was playing for nothing but pride having already been eliminated.
Despite just needing the draw, the visitors weren’t content on just sitting back, however, and had the first chance of the game when Stephan Schrock attempted to side foot the ball home with Andritany Ardhiyasa out of position.
But the German-born midfielder put his shot wide and for the remainder of the first half it was the home side that had the best of the proceedings as they looked to end their campaign on a winning note.
Stefano Lilipaly had the best chance for Bima Sakti’s side midway through the half, but he skied his volleyed effort and the Azkals were let off the hook.
The visitors were dealt a blow in the first half when inspirational leader Phil Younghusband was forced from the field after a nasty clash of heads left him worse for wear.
As it was in the first half, it was the home side doing most of the attacking in the second half, with Riko Simanjuntak in particular looking to create chances in the final third, but they struggled to find a way past the well organised defence of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side.
The visitors almost snatched the win and all three points late on when Manuel Ott's free kick forced a fine save from Andritany, who was determined to keep a clean sheet and in the end he did just that as the match ended without either side finding the back of the net.
The draw was enough for the Philippines to advance to the semi finals where they will face Vietnam, while Indonesia's campaign ended with just the one win from their four matches.
WHEN the Philippine Azkals return to the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Indonesia it will be an entirely different situation than the last time they went there for an AFF Suzuki Cup game.
The Azkals played in the stadium in 2010 when they were mere minnows in the Asean football scene who were eager to prove themselves in the region. They got eliminated by Indonesia, 2-0, on aggregate.
The Filipino footballers now return to Jakarta as sharks, favored to go through to the semifinals – backed by a proven and tested coach in Sven Goran Erikkson and confidence high as they remain unscathed even after a clash against Asean powerhouse Thailand.
“I know it brings back some good memories. I think that game was very different from tomorrow. We have the chance to go through the semifinal and Indonesia doesn’t have,” said team skipper Phil Younghusband, one of the three remaining players from the 2010 team.
“It’s very difficult compare or take anything from that. But I remember the atmosphere here and a lot of us were new to that kind of pressure. Different game different time but hopefully a different result,” he added.
Longtime team benefactor Dan Palami remembers that day like it was yesterday, and he’s confident that they can get a different result this time when they return to Indonesia on Sunday in the final game in Group B of the 2018 Suzuki Cup.
A win, or a draw coupled with a Singapore loss to Thailand, will push the Philippines to the semis.
“It certainly feels that way, it’s still in the group stage pero parang it brings back a lot of memories since that time na naglaro kami doon. I’m just hoping that it would yield a different result,” said Palami.
“I think the team si ready to give us that. With the way we’re playing, based on the trend of how we play, we can achieve victory in Indonesia,” he added.
While it’s an entirely different situation now between the two teams, what won’t change is the hostile atmosphere that’s expected from the home crowd in a stadium that can seat up to 77,000 people
“We cannot take for granted yung support ng home nila, na sa pagkadami dami nila will always give them the extra boost,” Palami continued.
“We’re just hoping that the players be able to cope with it and play according to how we should play.”
A month after securing qualification into the 2019 AFC Cup, representatives of Kaya FC–Iloilo traveled to Kuala Lumpur to witness the group stage draw held at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) House.
“The Cup exemplifies the continent’s love for football, a passion for the game that shows no signs of slowing down, especially when you look at the record attendances set in Indonesia this year. The AFC’s vision and mission is clear. We want to raise the standard of our competitions and we want to confirm football as the number one sport in the continent,” said AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John to open the ceremonies.
As the Philippines’ cup winners, Kaya FC–Iloilo was drawn into Group H, alongside reigning ASEAN Champions, Home United of Singapore. The group is rounded out by Laotian champions, Lao Toyota FC, and the team that finishes second in the Indonesian league, which as of writing is yet to conclude.
Group H: Home United of Singapore Kaya FC–Iloilo of Philippines Lao Toyota FC of Laos Second Placed Indonesian team
“It’s an exciting group. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but a challenge that the club and the players are excited for,” said Kaya General Manager Paul Tolentino.
“For supporters of Kaya FC and supporters of football in general, this is an exciting opportunity for them to see clubs from different countries, to see their level of football and to see how the Filipinos are really able to cope at this level, with what you could say are more experienced and seasoned opponents. The club is striving to bring matches home to Iloilo. Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done to get approval from AFC to be able to play in front of the Iloilo home crowd, but we’re doing our best,” he added.
Kaya FC–Iloilo 2019 AFC Cup Schedule: February 27 vs Lao Toyota FC (Away) March 13 vs Home United (Home) April 2 vs Indonesian club (Away) April 17 vs Indonesian Club (Home) April 30 vs Lao Toyota FC (Home) May 14 vs Home United (Away)
By KevinEstrada MANILA--The Philippines put one foot into the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal after escaping Panaad with a 1-1 draw with champions Thailand Wednesday evening. Sven-Göran Eriksson's Azkals were set to get yet another defeat against the War Elephants, but substitute Jovin Bedic saved his blushes in the final quarter of an hour in the Group B match that put them both in the cusp of the last four as they are tied on the table with seven points apiece yet the visitors have the upper hand in goal difference. With the draw, Indonesia's elimination from the biennial meet was confirmed after Singapore's 6-1 thrashing of East Timor in the other tie for the Lions' second win of the campaign. That left their much anticipated tiff with the ASEAN's number two side in Jakarta's Bung Karno reduced to a dead rubber. With the horror of East Timor's comeback try in their mind, the Swede made a gamble with Alvaro Silva set aside Paul Mulders in the centre-half with Carli De Murga, and Daisuke Sato had to be moved up at left midfield when Stephan Palla came in at left-back. After a physical and heated first half that ended goalless, Thailand got the first strike 11 minutes after the restart when Suphachai Jaided converted on a Philip Roller cross on a counter that got the Azkals defence asleep on their duty, threatening to break the Panaad unbeaten run since Chinese Taipei pulled out a shocker five years ago. However, the resolve of the side was put to the test and Eriksson's substitutions finally bore fruit when the Kaya Iloilo forward made an instant impact just three minutes after coming on for Palla, with his shot got a deflection that hit the post and wiggled past Chatchai Bootprom with nine minutes left. "For me, we were the better team out there," said the former England boss after the match, as he thinks that the Azkals could have done more after the equalizer against the champions. "If we play football like this, I think we will qualify for the semifinals." Philippines: Falkesgaard (GK), De Murga, Manny Ott, Phil YH (C) (James YH 88'), Sato (Ramsay 63', Schröck, Steuble, Palla (Bedic 78'), Alvaro Silva, Reichelt, Strauss Thailand: Bootprom (GK), Chalermpong (C), Pansa, Puangjan, Adisak (Chayanan 88'), Poller, Tanaboon (Haiphrakorn 66'), A-Nan, Jaided (Mongkol 90+2'), Korrakot, Sanrawat Attendance: 3,522 https://www.dugout.ph/2018/11/azkals-boot-indonesia-out-of-suzuki-cup.html
15 FALKESGAARD Michael
3 DE MURGA Carlie
8 OTT Manny
10 YOUNGHUSBAND Phil (C)
11 SATO Daisuke
17 SCHRÖCK Stephan
21 STEUBLE Martin
25 PALLA Stephan
29 REICHELT Patrick
33 SILVA Álvaro
36 STRAUSS Patrick
Kuala Lumpur: The Philippines survived a late score from Timor-Leste to run out 3-2 winners and make it two wins from two matches to start their AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign.
It was Timor-Leste, the nominal ‘home’ side in this encounter, who should’ve taken the lead in just the fifth minute when Nelson Sarmento Viegas was played through one-on-one with Azkals keeper Michael Falkesgaard, but a wonderful save from Falkesgaard denied the Timorese a shock early lead.
It took a while for the Philippines to settle, but when they did they took control of the match and they took the lead on 27 minutes when Phil Younghusband fired home from the edge of the area.
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side doubled their lead just over five minutes later when Martin Steuble was afforded too much space on the edge of the area, firing home with his left foot past the outstretched hand of Aderito Fernandes to make it 2-0 for the Azkals heading into half time.
The Azkals had a third on 68 minutes when Carli De Murga was left unmarked from Kevin Ingreso's free kick, heading home with ease past Aderito.
But just as the visitors looked to be cruising Timor-Leste got a lifeline when Paul Mulders fouled Nelson in the area, with the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Nataniel Reis was tasked with taking the spot kick and he made no mistake, sending Falkesgaard the wrong way to claw one back for the Timorese.
Just two minutes later they had a second when Joao Pedro was beautifully played in behind the Philippines defence by Henrique Wilson, rounding Falkesgaard to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes still to play.
But they couldn't find an equaliser for what would've been their first ever point at the AFF Suzuki Cup as the Philippines survived to make it two wins from as many matches to jump to second in Group B behind Thailand.
It is the high-flying Thailand that the Philippines will face next in Bacolod on Wednesday, while Timor-Leste round out their campaign away against Singapore, also on Wednesday.
KUALA LUMPUR - The Philippine Azkals arrived in this bustling Malaysian capital late Thursday afternoon for their Saturday clash with Timor Leste, their spirits high after an exciting 1-0 win over Singapore last Tuesday in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Their opponents, who will officially be the "home" team in Saturday's match at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium, are Group B's only winless team, but their performance has been progressing, and coach Sven-Goran Eriksson knows better than to take them lightly.
"They had a very, very difficult start to the tournament," Eriksson said, referring to Timor Leste's 0-7 thrashing at the hands of Thailand. But in their second game against Indonesia (a 1-3 loss), they did well and scored the first goal. So we have to pay attention.
"It's a very important game for us. We started well in the tournament, good result and three points. We have to play very well."
The match will air live on AksyonTV starting at 8:00PM with livestream on ESPN5.com and tv5.com.ph/aksyontv.
The Azkals are one man down after defender Luke Woodland was ruled out for the rest of the tournament following his leg injury suffered in the first half of the Singapore match.
"Luke is not available for the rest of the tournament," Eriksson declared. "He is out for, according to the doctors, a month. He is completely out."
Timor Leste, according to coach Norio Tsukitate, will also miss two players due to injury, although he declined to identify them except to say that one was a "right side defender" and another a "central defender with a knee problem".
The O Sol Nascente, as the Timor Leste men's football team is known, still have no points on the board but still have an outside chance of advancing to the semifinal round. That will entail winning their last two matches, starting with the one against the Azkals on Saturday.
"We have had two games against Thailand and Indonesia," Tsukitate said. "Our players are very young but (have) good experience already. We have two more games. But we'll never give up for the knockout round. Nobody knows the result. We have to focus."
Eriksson has cautioned his team against over-confidence, stressing that anything can happen in football.
"I hope that we play a good game, of course. Play good football, defend well and win the game. I hope so, but you cannot take that for granted. If you don't perform, if you don't fight, if you have the wrong mentality going out there, you will not win."
The Azkals turned things around against Singapore in the second half, with Eriksson making a key substitution at the break that brought in James Younghusband for Mike Ott. But the veteran coach says he has not yet decided on his ideal starting unit.
"The best 11, you never know what it is. I think that changes from one match to another. It's true that we played better in the second half. If that was due to the changes, I'm not sure about that. We became better into the game, we kept the team together more in the second half, we played the ball better to each other in the second half."
The coaching staff will use Friday night's training to decide the starting 11 for the match, and see which players are in the best shape following their tough match Tuesday and a day's worth of traveling from Bacolod to Manila and finally to Kuala Lumpur.
"We'll see," Eriksson said. We traveled the whole day and we have one training (Friday). We'll see after training, the legs. Look at the legs, if they work or not. I think we'll be okay but after the training we will decide who's going to start."
Skipper Phil Younghusband said the players are feeling fine and made a conscious effort to recover quickly following the Singapore match.
"Straight after the game, Sven stressed the importance of recovery," said Younghusband, who played his 100th cap last Tuesday. "There's not much time for training because we have to travel and then there's two days. The most important thing is we are recovering. It's not always easy to recover when you are traveling and being on a plane for four hours with not much leg room. But we feel okay. Singapore was a physical game but I think one of the strengths of Singapore is trying to slow the tempo down so the tempo wasn't as high as other games. But it was a physical game. I think the players feel okay. I feel okay personally. We're doing a lot of stretching to make sure we recover quickly and we get the right food intake."
Eriksson, who has been with the team for less than a month, has liked what he has seen so far, and is eager to find out how the team fares against the rest of Southeast Asia.
"We have a very good team. Physically strong, technically good. And I like the spirit. This Suzuki Cup will tell all of us how good we are if you compare with Thailand, Indonesia and so on."
By KevinEstrada MANILA--The Philippines' quest for the AFF Suzuki Cup went on a strong start after grinding out a close 1-0 win over four-time champions Singapore Tuesday evening in Panaad. Sven-Göran Eriksson nearly walked through the tight-rope on to start his tenure with the Azkals until Patrick Reichelt saved the Swede's blushes with a late second half strike on Phil Younghusband's record-setting day of playing his century of matches.
It was a lethargic first half for both sides, most notably for the hosts as they were frustrated by the compact defence of Singapore, with memories of that goalless stalemate in Bocaue fresh on their minds.
Eriksson made two interesting changes just before and right after half-time, with James Younghusband providing the strength and power that the visitors did not like when he forced Hassan Sunny into a flying stop in the 63rd minute. Just as Sunny thought of his invincibility, the Azkals finally got his goal breached in the 78th minute, when the skipper picked out the Ceres Negros man in a tightly guarded penalty box while he made no mistake in hitting his effort from seven yards out.
Debutante John-Patrick Strauss nearly put the match to bed a minute before full time when he hit his left-footed shot wide to the right.
The majority of the 4,327 supporters inside the hallowed Negrense ground was in ovation after the younger Younghusband, who debuted for the Philippines on the same pitch a dozen years ago, gave way to Curt Dizon to cap off his century of Azkals caps.
Philippines: Etheridge (GK), De Murga, Mike Ott (James YH 46'), Woodland (Sato 36'), Manny Ott, Phil YH (C) (Dizon 90+6'), Schröck, Steuble, Mulders, Reichelt, Strauss
The Philippines progressed to the second round of Women's Olympic qualifiers with a match to spare following their 5-1 rout of Mongolia Sunday afternoon (evening Manila time) in Hisor, Tajikistan.
Following the withdrawal of UAE and Macau in Group B. the qualifying format was tweaked instantly with the top two sides in each group automatically qualified, with the two best third place finishers completing the cast for round two.
Despite the late change in format, Let Dimzon's Malditas showed no signs of slowing down in Group A play, with debutant Shelah Cadag notching her second hat-trick in three matches to set up Tuesday's tiff with Michelle Pao and Chinese Taipei for the group's top honors.
Cadag put the Filipinas ahead eight minutes into the match, and then added another one fifteen minutes later before being pegged back by an Undrakh Ulziibayar penalty deep into added time for a 2-1 halftime lead.
However, Camille Rodriguez resumed normal services at the hour mark, with Kyla Inquig netting her first full international strike in the 81st minute.
Cadag completed the hat-trick five minutes before full time to complete the rout.
Azkals squad list for AFF Suzuki Cup (Unofficial, TBC)
Manny and Mike Ott , Ramsay, Phil Y, James Y, Steuble, Bedic, Mulders, Etheridge, Falkesgaard, Deyto, Reed, Woodland, Strauss, Aguinaldo, Palla, Dizon, Ingreso, Sato, Schrock, Silva, Reichelt and De Murga
Following players from training camp not included in Azkals final squad list for AFF Suzuki Cup
The Philippine Women’s National Team notched their third straight win in the 2020 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Asian Qualifiers Round 1 after defeating Mongolia, 5-1, last Sunday 11 November 2018 at the Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan.
UST forward Shelah Mae Cadag took her tally to 7 goals in the qualifiers with another hat-trick scoring in the 8th, 15th, and 85th minutes. Camille Rodriguez and Kyla Inquig added fuel to further gloss to the result with goals in the 60th and 81st minutes.
The win took the Philippines’ tally to 9 points after 3 matches. The final match of the qualifiers will be against Chinese Taipei on Tuesday 13 November 2018.
By Bob Guerrero MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals played a training match against Mongolia last Tuesday, November 6, at Vermosa in Imus Cavite. But kickoff was delayed a bit when assistant coach Chris Greatwich noticed a small hole in the otherwise pristine pitch. The other members of the coaching staff pitched in to toss some dirt into the depression so that play could begin.
There might be holes to fill on the pitch, but not on the Azkals roster. New coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has a quiver stuffed with arrows, with a few caveats we will get to later.
“This is definitely one of the strongest teams we have ever put together for a Suzuki Cup,” said Phil Younghusband, who did not train on Tuesday because he was nursing a minor cold.
The Suzuki Cup has been reformatted, with each team getting two home games in the group. Instead of 4 teams battling for two semis spots in the group, 5 teams will now duke it out for the semis slots.
The Azkals play Singapore on November 13 in Bacolod, travel to Malaysia to face Timor Leste on the 17th, tackle Thailand in Panaad on the 21st, then finish the group with a difficult road game against Indonesia in the cauldron that is Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno on the 25th.
The Azkals are mostly two-deep with quality players on every spot. And new blood is boosting the team.
John-Patrick Strauß is a new addition who got his first cap against Oman in the last FIFA window. The 22-year-old defensive midfielder plays for FC Erzgebirge Aue in the second tier of German football, an extremely high level.
“He is technically very sound, hardworking, and can really interrupt play,” said Younghusband.
“He does a lot of the work that goes unnoticed.”
Strauß was en route to the Philippines on Tuesday and is expected to be in Bacolod later in the week until the end of the competition.
Another key pick up for the Philippines is Filipino-Spanish central defender Alvaro Silva. He has played for the Philippines in friendlies in the past, but now with a passport, he can play in a competition.
Silva was with Kedah in Malaysia last season after transferring from Hanoi. Silva is 34 but looked very sharp in training. The Azkals website lists him as “unattached” to a club now.
“Alvaro is not the kind of central defender I want to play against,” admitted Younghusband. The Azkals skipper noted his physicality, even against players who don't have the ball.
Silva follows in the tradition of Rob Gier and Juani Guirado: the smart, experienced bulwark of the defense.
Behind Silva will be one of 3 goalies. Neil Etheridge is the likely starter for the first two games, then either Fil-Dane Michael Falkesgaard or Pat Deyto will play the remainder of the matches after the FIFA window concludes.
“We are really blessed to have good keepers,” said Younghusband.
“We are spoiled for choice and any of them can come in and do the job.”
The Azkals leading scorer was also effusive in his praise for new recruit Amin Nazari, whose father is Iranian and mother is Pinay. He grew up and was developed in Sweden, just like elder brother Omid, who plays for Ceres.
Omid is cap-tied to Iran and can never play for the Azkals, but Amin seems committed to the Philippines. The defensive mid plays for IFK Mariehamn in the Åland Islands, a Swedish-speaking archipelago that is part of Finland. The club plays in the Finnish league.
“He is technically very good and keeps possession well,” said Phil. “But he plays in a very cold country and may find the conditions here difficult.”
Nazari played for the Philippines against Bahrain in the recent friendly in Oman. He was at training on Tuesday.
The Fil-Iranian is not listed in the squad of 29 for the AFF championship, and Azkals boss Dan Palami said there are still some wrinkles to be worked out regarding his eligibility with FIFA. It's not clear if he can play in this Suzuki Cup but the outlook could be rosier for him for the AFC Asian Cup in January. The team said they will whittle the squad down to a final 23 but can still add some players in the event of injury.
While there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, there are causes for concern.
Javier Patiño is in the roster. It is likely he starts against Singapore next Tuesday in Panaad and versus Timor Leste in Kuala Lumpur 4days later. But team officials told me that his club may give him their blessing to play after the FIFA international window shuts on November 20, ruling him out of the match against Thailand on the 21st and versus Indonesia on the 25th. Clubs are typically not obliged to release players for international duty outside of the windows.
This kept him off the Suzuki two years ago, when he was still with a Chinese club and the Suzuki was held completely outside FIFA dates. Now Patigol plays for Buriram United in Thailand.
Why Patiño may not be allowed to play for us while Buriram's Pansa Hemviboom, Siwarak Tedsungnoen, Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri, Saisalak Haiprakorn and Supachai Jaided can presumably play the whole tournament for Thailand is perhaps best explained by the club.
Stephen Palla, another Azkal, is also on the Thunder Castles payroll. I have not heard that he is being held back after the window, but we shall see.
One can only surmise that Patiño may have a different contract from the one all of these other players have inked. One that stipulates his contract may be voided if he gets injured playing outside of a FIFA date. (FIFA date injuries while on international duty are usually covered by insurance.)
At any rate, one hopes this becomes something like the Jordan Clarkson situation, where after much back-and-forth, the NBA allowed him to play for Gilas in the Asian Games. It's my understanding that negotiations between the Azkals and Buriram could be ongoing.
We desperately need Patino's firepower. He has scored 6 goals for the Azkals in 13 caps. Watch this space.
Another cause for concern is the fitness of the Ceres Negros players, namely Mike and Manny Ott, Curt Dizon, Kevin Ingreso, Martin Steuble, Stephan Schrock, Patrick Reichelt and Carlie De Murga. None are hurt, but all played their last competitive game on September 22, when they were eliminated from the PFL Copa Paulino Alcantara in the group stage by Davao.
That means when we take the field against Singapore, many of our starters will not have played a competitive club match in over one and a half months. That's far from ideal.
If It is any consolation, they did look pretty sharp against Mongolia, winning 3-1 over three 30-minute periods. The elder Ott even scored a goal. Let's hope the boys have been keeping fit during their respite.
Another point of concern: the centerbacks. Will Eriksson pair Silva, 34 years old, with De Murga, turning 30 this month, at central defense? Or will he go with one of the younger options, Marco Casambre and Amani Aguinaldo for at least one of the CB spots? These are the tough decisions Eriksson and chief assistant Scott Cooper will need to make.
Other than that, there is quality all over the formation. Schrock is back for a second Suzuki Cup in a row and he can change a game in an instant. Ditto for Manny Ott and our wide players, Reichelt and Dizon. Daisuke Sato is on his way and I believe we can have him for the entire duration of the tournament, just like with Strauß.
The team now hunkers down for preparations in Bacolod. Let's hope a noisy and raucous Panaad crowd can make that home advantage count.
Kuala Lumpur: The journey to the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 Qualifiers has begun following the official draw ceremony at the AFC House on Wednesday.
The Draw divided the 44 participating teams into two zones of WEST (West + South + Central) with 24 teams, and EAST (East + ASEAN) with 20 teams
Group J host Malaysia, who reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in their history in January, are set to host China PR, Laos and Philippines.
The 11 group winners and four best second-placed teams will qualify for the Finals, with the host nation of the Finals receiving automatic qualification.
In the event that the host of the Finals, Thailand, finish among the qualified teams to the Finals (either top of the group or one of the four best second-placed teams), the next (fifth) second-placed team in the ranking among all groups will qualify to the Finals instead.
The 2020 Qualifiers will be held on March 22-26, 2019.
If Shela Cadag grabbed the headlines the last time around, this time it was Sara Castañeda’s turn to steal the show.
Thanks to the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Football Rookie of the Year, the Philippine Women’s National Football Team trounced host nation Tajikistan, 3-1, at the Hisor Central Stadium in Hisor, to clinch back-to-back wins in the first round of the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
With the game on the line, Castañeda played the role of a hero and shot past Tajikistan goalkeeper Sakhina Saidova twice in the 50th and 76th minutes, with the latter goal scored as a penalty.
It was the perfect response to a first half stalemate, where the home side enjoyed an early lead. Khalimova Gunsunbi’s strike in the 26th minute gave the Filipinas a premature setback, but Cadag erased the deficit four minutes later to ease the pressure on the Philippines.
The result gives the Philippines the 2nd spot of Group A with 6 points, and eliminates Tajikistan from contention. Chinese Taipei leads the group with as much points as the Philippines, but the former has a superior goal difference of +7.
Only the top country is assured of a ticket towards the next round, while the second placed team can qualify depending on other groups’ results.
National team mentor and concurrent Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws coach Let Dimzon hopes her wards can make it three wins in a row in the competition when they face Mongolia on November 11, 4:00 PM Philippine time at the same venue.