The Philippine women’s football team secured a seat in the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup after holding Bahrain to a 1-1 draw at the Pamir Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan late Monday night.
Anicka Castañeda’s volley in the 82nd minute found the back of the net allowing the Filipinas to secure the No. 2 spot in Group A with 10 points on 3-1-0 win-draw-loss card.
They will play against Asian Cup host Jordan today but regardless of the result; the PH XI will advance to the final tournament as Jordan is already seeded in next year’s Asian Cup for being the host.
“It was a crazy match. It was like playing for the title. We wanted this more so we were able to bounce back and I am just thankful for the win. I am speechless,” said PH XI head coach Leticia Bautista in the tournament’s official website.
“At halftime, I said to my players that they need to find some composure. Bahrain also really wanted the slot and we just had to remember how we played in the last three games,” she added.”
The draw also ended the bid of Bahrain to get an Asian Cup slot as it dropped to third spot with a 1-2-1 record for five points.
The Filipinas, who combined for 16 goals in their first three wins, encountered trouble penetrating the defense of Bahrain in the first half although they had three chances but were not successful going to the break.
The Asian Cup dream was suddenly in the balance after Bahrain’s Noora Al-Dossary broke free from her defenders to give her side a 1-0 advantage in the 56th minute.
Pressed to score, the Filipinas depended on Castañeda, who received a nice pass from Eva Madarang and fired a shot at the right corner to tie the game.
The PH XI’s defense held on for the next minutes to preserve the result it wanted resulting in the team securing a slot in the Asian Cup where they will be pitted against Asia’s heavyweights.
Jordan kept the No. 1 spot after a 10-2 drubbing of Tajikistan. United Arab Emirates (UAE) scored its first win after blanking Iraq, 3-0.
The Philippines and Jordan will collide in the final Group A preliminary match on Wednesday at 4 p.m. UAE and Tajikistan will face off at 7 p.m. followed by the non-bearing match between Bahrain and Iraq at 10 p.m.