Football: Team captain says Pinays yet to peak in Women's Asian Cup

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 27 2022 01:58 PM

Hali Long (5) of the Philippines defends against Thailand's Miranda Nild in their Group B match in the AFC Women's Asian Cup. Photo courtesy of the AFC.
Hali Long (5) of the Philippines defends against Thailand's Miranda Nild in their Group B match in the AFC Women's Asian Cup. Photo courtesy of the AFC.

The Philippine women's national football team has put together two impressive performances in the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022, but co-captain Hali Long believes they have more to show in India.

The Filipinas opened their campaign with a 1-0 triumph against Thailand, the first time that they had beaten their Southeast Asian rivals in 13 tries. In their second Group B match, the Philippines held firm for 50 minutes before eventually absorbing a 4-0 loss to Australia, the 11th ranked team in the world.

With three points from two matches, the Filipinas are on track to qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament. A win against Indonesia in their final group round match on Thursday night will see them through, regardless of the result of the match between Australia and Thailand.

Long, who wore the captain's armband against Australia, is confident that they can put together an even better performance against Indonesia at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.

"I don't think we've peaked yet," said Long, who has played the full 90 minutes in both of the Philippines' matches.

"It's definitely a higher level that I've seen from us… I feel like I'm playing at a higher level, but it's all of us just rising to the occasion of the magnitude of this tournament," she added. "It's us taking this chance for Philippine football."

Having already set a standard for themselves with their efforts against Thailand and Australia, Long is hopeful that they can continue to raise the bar against Indonesia and thus secure their passage to the quarterfinals.

There, she hopes that the team will reach its peak performance. The top five teams in the AFC Women's Asian Cup will clinch berths to next year's FIFA Women's World Cup that will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

"I don't think we've peaked yet. Hopefully we start peaking after the group stages, and see where we go from there," said Long.

"I can't speak too soon… and it will be difficult, but hopefully we just keep setting the bar higher and higher for ourselves," she added.

All that being said, Long is aware that they cannot underestimate Indonesia. 

Indonesia is the lowest-ranked team in the group at 94th, and has yet to claim any points in the group stage. The Indonesians are playing in the continental tournament for the first time in 33 years, and in their first match, Australia gave them a rude welcome to the tune of an 18-0 rout.

But Indonesia has threatened the Philippines before, notably in the 2018 AFF Women's Championship where they rallied from two goals down to snatch a late 3-2 lead. Only a Quinley Quezada goal in stoppage time allowed the Filipinas to salvage a point.

"I think we're definitely aware of that. I hope that the showings we had in the past two games totally nulls that thought, but we definitely have to be aware of that, that Indonesia knows how we have played the last two games," said Long.

"And knowing the result of when they played us last time, it's definitely on their minds. They're gonna play like they have nothing to lose," she added. 

"We have everything to lose, but hopefully for me and the rest of my teammates, we don't let that cloud our judgment or cloud our reality of what we can do in the next game."

Kick off between the Filipinas and Indonesia is at 10 p.m., Philippine time.