Newcomer Eva Madarang and Irish Navaja starred in the Philippines’ 4-0 rout of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers at the Pamir Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan late Monday evening.
Madarang, the 19-year-old midfielder from Moorpark College in California, sparkled in her debut for the Philippine women’s team after scoring twice to start its Group A campaign on a high note.
Navaja also scored a goal in the 50th minute and assisted Sara Castañeda for the country’s fourth goal of the match.
The Philippines and finals tournament host Jordan both won their opening games but the latter holds the provisional top spot after a 6-0 trashing of Bahrain.
Host Tajikistan also won its opening match in Group A with a 1-0 squeaker over Iraq.
Playing through the freezing10-degree weather made colder by continuous rain in the Central Asian nation, the Filipinas were able to heat up early on behind Madarang’s intrusions.
The PH XI rookie started the onslaught with a swift strike in the 14th minute off a pass from Navaja from the edge of the box to erect an early 1-0 advantage for the Philippines.
The Filipino-American standout doubled the lead in the first minute of stoppage time of the first half with another strike just a few yards from the box for a commanding 2-0 lead entering the break.
The De La Salle University connection of Navaja and Castañeda took charge in the second half with the former scoring a beautiful goal four minutes after the second half to make it 3-0 for the Filipinas.
Castañeda sealed the victory for the Philippines after receiving a precise pass from Navaja and converted a goal in the 54th minute that proved to be the final score.
The squad of head coach Leticia Bautista eyes its second straight win against Iraq on Wednesday at 4 p.m.