Football: Pinays eye knockout phase of AFC Women's Asian Cup

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2022 06:44 PM

The Filipinas have three points from two matches in Group B of the AFC Women's Asian Cup. Photo courtesy of the AFC.

The Philippine women's national football team is brimming with confidence as they head into their final Group B match of the AFC Women's Asian Cup in India.

The Filipinas opened their campaign with a 1-0 triumph against Thailand -- their first ever win against their regional rivals. They battled powerhouse Australia in their second match, holding the Matildas scoreless in the first 50 minutes before eventually losing 0-4.

"I think the Thailand game set the bar pretty high, and then the Australia game set the bar even higher for ourselves," co-captain Hali Long told reporters on Wednesday.

The Philippines has three points in two matches, and currently sits in second place, thanks to its head-to-head result against Thailand. The Filipinas wrap up the group stages on Thursday night against Indonesia at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.

Should they beat Indonesia -- the 94th ranked team in the world by FIFA -- the Filipinas will secure their spot in the tournament quarterfinals regardless of the result of the Thailand-Australia match that will also take place on Thursday night.

Even a draw would suffice, assuming that the Matildas either beat or tie Thailand in their own fixture.

But Long stressed that they intend to take care of business against Indonesia, especially after their impressive performances against Thailand and Australia.

Philippines co-captain Hali Long (5) in action against Australia. Photo courtesy of the AFC.

"Our mindset hasn't changed at all. Our mindset going in this is to win, to make it out of our group. So, our goal is to win against Indonesia, place second in our group," said Long.

"We definitely gave ourselves quite the challenge for this next game to raise that bar even higher, even regardless of what Indonesia's ranked," she also said. "I think it all becomes personal at this point, personal to ourselves, personal to our team as a whole, what we want to show next."

Indonesia is making its first appearance in the continental tournament for the first time in 33 years, and has yet to pick up a point in Group B.

Australia gave the Indonesians a rude welcome last Friday, clobbering them 18-0, before Thailand grabbed a 4-0 triumph against them on Monday night.

The Filipinas, ranked 64th in the world, are favored to beat Indonesia and Long said they are determined to bring the same intensity and grit that they displayed against Australia when they play another Southeast Asian rival.

This, even though the team is aware that even just a point against Indonesia will almost assuredly be enough for them to reach the quarterfinals.

"It shouldn't play into any of our heads. It's hard for it not to, but it's just another reason why we can't lower our standards or drop the bar, 'cause we set it so high," Long stressed.

"It's a challenge in itself, so I think as long as we get that out of our minds, as long as we focus on playing better than we have in the past two games, I think we'll be successful," she added.

Kick-off between the Philippines and Indonesia is 10 p.m., Manila time.

The most recent meeting between Indonesia and the Philippines was a 3-3 draw in the 2018 AFF Championship in Palembang.