MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s football team pulled off a massive upset in the AFF Women’s Championship 2022 as it shocked Vietnam, 4-0, to clinch its first ever final appearance on Friday, July 15, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Sarina Bolden delivered another stellar outing, finishing with a brace as Hali Long and Tahnai Annis also joined the scoring fray in the semifinal match to stunningly shut out and dethrone Vietnam.
The huge upset propelled the Philippines to a championship showdown against Thailand on Sunday, July 17, at 7:30 pm, at the same venue.
Thailand downed Myanmar, 2-0, in the other semifinal duel.
Long nailed her first goal of the tournament as she drilled in a powerful header past Tran Thi Kim Thanh, Vietnam’s goalkeeper, at the 31st minute.
The Philippines’ center-back towered above everyone in the penalty box as she connected with Annis’ wonderful corner kick.
Annis eventually joined in the score sheet as she converted a penalty kick at the 51st minute to double the lead for the Philippines.
It was a well-deserved goal for the veteran midfielder as she was the one who earned the penalty after her initial attempt hit the arm of a Vietnamese defender.
Bolden then completed the rout with two clean headers at the 62’ and 71’ marks of the match with Annis and Quinley Quezada acting as the providers for the Bolden brace.
Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic shuffled his starting lineup once more as the Australian opted to bench center-back Dominique Randle following her critical error in the previous match.
Newcomer Jessika Cowart was called up to partner with Long in the heart of the defense, while Olivia McDaniel and Eva Madarang kept their places as the starting goalkeeper and right-back, respectively.
Left-back Sofia Harrison completed the match day backline as she returned to the starting lineup after coming on as a substitute in the previous match.
Despite keeping most of the possession early in the game, Vietnam was not able to crack the steady defensive backline of the Philippines.
At the 15’ mark, Cowart showed why she has earned the starting nod from her coach as she denied Pham Hai Yen a goal scoring opportunity inside the box.
The Vietnamese forward breezed past Filipinas team captain Annis, but she was unable to evade Cowart’s alert tackle – which eventually led to a goal kick since the ball touched Hai Yen last.
Eight minutes after Long’s header, the Filipinas had another chance from a corner kick, but Jacklyn Sawicki’s curling right-footed shot was comfortably saved by the Vietnam keeper.
Vietnam team captain Huynh Nhu had a massive opportunity to equalize a couple of minutes before the halftime whistle, but her free kick near the penalty box sailed wide as the score remained at 1-0.
The Philippines opened the second half with a superb combination from Bolden and Isabella Flanigan as the former dribbled past multiple defenders to set up the latter.
Flanigan had a one-on-one scenario against the goalkeeper, but she just couldn’t convert from close range and increase the lead to 2-0.
Minutes after the second goal, the 17-year-old Flanigan failed to convert another tap in as Bolden once again delivered in a marvelous cross from the right wing.
Toward the end of the match, midfielders Jessica Miclat and Anicka Castañeda were called by Stajcic to help the starters hold off Vietnam for the commanding victory. – Rappler.com