AFF WOMEN: Winning starts for Philippines, Timor Leste

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Two goals from Kathleen Camille Rodriguez steered the Philippines to a 3-0 win over Malaysia in the opening match of the AFF Women’s Championship at the Institute of Physical Education Stadium here today. The win propelled the Philippines to the top of Group A while Timor Leste were next in line after they defeated Singapore 2-1 in another match.

Kathleen knocked two opportunistic goals just on the stroke of halftime and added a second on the hour with Hali Moriah Candido contributing a fine header in the 51st minute. The Philippines were in good form and took their chances well, especially with their set-pieces.

In the other Group A game later in the evening, Timor Leste were forced to dig deep to make it past a difficult Singapore side. They eventually opened up in the second half with a fine corner kick from Luselia Fernandes and a second after a great run from Dolores Costa. Singapore recovered and converted a penalty through Danelle Tan in the dying moments.

In the earlier game, it was scorching with the heat biting down on the players, and match officials on the pitch. But the conditions did not stop the players from charging at their opponents from the start. The Philippines turned in some fine moves and somewhat rattled the Malaysians. But the Malaysians held their ground and launched into attacks when they had a chance.

With the half all but over, and the players set to get out of the sun, the Philippines pushed up and earned the opening goal of the tournament. A deft tap over the keeper struck the bar and dropped into the path of Kathleen Camille Rodriguez who easily slipped it in.

The Philippines were on their feet again when they added a second off a set-piece in the 51st minute. Defender Claire Elisabeth Lim floated in a high cross to the far post where Hali Moriah Candido headed over Malaysian keeper Nurul Azurin Mazlan. In an almost similar set-piece, nine minutes later, Claire, from a freekick, lifted the ball deep into the box. Nurul tried to grab it but the ball came off her and into the path of Kathleen to tap in.

“It was a good start for us, we are happy with the result of the game. Although during the first 15 minutes we struggled because of the pressure from Malaysia, after that we controlled the game. We had a lot of attacking, had many chances but did not capitalise,” Dimzon Marnelli Salvador, the Philippines head coach said.

Malaysian coach Jacob MJ Joseph said his girls had chances early on but did not score. “The first 20 minutes, we played well and had two or three chances but did not make use of them. We gave them a lot of space and did not close them down.”

Later in the evening at the same venue, Timor Leste looked threatening but failed to get through in the first half. They had some quick players like Marcia Chavez and Dolores Costa, forging forward but were always cut off by the Singapore defenders. In the last few minutes of the first half, Singapore had a few shots including a fine strike from Danelle Tan.

Timor Leste found their rhythm after the break and began to press harder as they hunted down the opening goal. In the 59th minute, Luselia, from the far corner, curled in a lovely corner kick that dipped behind the Singapore keeper. Their speedy forwards were constantly trying to break through the defence, and their perseverance paid off when Dolores stormed past her markers in the 73rd minute.

Singapore refused to give up, and with the clock ticking down, earned a penalty which Danelle blasted to the right of the keeper. But they ran out of time as the referee blew to end the game soon after the restart.

 

TODAY’S RESULTS

Venue: Institute of Physical Education (IPE)

Group A

Philippines bt Malaysia 3-0

Timor Leste bt Singapore 2-1

TOMORROW’S FIXTURES

Group B

Myanmar vs Indonesia

Vietnam vs Cambodia

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