Philippines cruise past Cambodia, 5-0
By John Bayarong
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM—The Philippines whipped Cambodia, 5-0, Thursday afternoon and booked a ticket to the semi-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U14 Regional Championships here at the Thong Nhat Stadium.
Thursday’s Independence Day victory meant that the young Malditas topped group A with full 9 points. They will be playing Myanmar in the semi-finals on Saturday for a spot in the finals of the annual regional tournament on Sunday.
Midfielder Joyce Semacio’s free kick flew straight and true in the 26th minute to open the scoring spree for the Philippines side. In response, Cambodia pulled back, with all 11 players crowding their own half.
Throughout the first half, the Philippines came up with beautiful runs in the left and right side, only to falter in final third, with most of the shots flying past the goal posts.
Visibly worried with a precarious lone goal lead well into the second half, the small group of Pinoy parents’ wait was rewarded with a goal from Itsuko Bacatan in the 44th minute.
A sudden downpour turned the game upside down, with players falling over each other. In one instance, three players fell on top of the ball, resembling a rugby match, more than soccer. But even the soggy field could not slow down the Philippine side. Coach Leti Dimzon’s halftime adjustments slowly gained traction forcing an own goal by the Cambodian goalkeeper at 55 minutes, and gifting the Pinoys with stabs from Lindsay Whaley and Chloe Hails in the 56th and 67th minute, respectively.
Defense was key to the Pinay’s unbeaten run. This was highlighted by the 1-0 win over Vietnam where the lone goal of Lindsay Whaley of Olongapo City was enough to conquer the favorites and tournament host. To date, the Philippines have yet to allow a goal thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of Yasmin Elauria and Alezandria Gumilao.
In the other game, Vietnam made up for their loss beating Singapore, 3-0. Nguyen Thi Thu Hien led the way with goals in the 23rd and 57th minute while substitute defender Pham Dieu Linh added one in the 55th.
The U14 young Malditas, a motley crew from various parts of the country, is looking like a well-oiled machine coming into the semifinals, thanks to coach Dimzon and her band of sisters, namely; assistant coach Joyce Landagan, goalkeeper coach Isa Marquez and physiotherapist Katherine Anne Soriano.
This year’s U14 team is composed of Metro Manila’s Stacey Ann Arthur, Jennifer Baroin, Chloe Hails, Annika Velez, Glynnes dela Cruz; San Carlos City’s Princess Beth Caparida, Tenelyn Otom, and Tejanee Isulat; Cebu’s Jan Reese Jumawan, Itsuko Bacatan, Arantxa Trebol, and Alexandrea Gumilao; Olongapo City’s Lindsay Whaley and Yasmin Elauria; Iloilo City’s Francesca Suerte; Davao City’s Patricia Francisco, and Joyce Semacio; and Hong Kong-based Mikayla Simons. (30)