The Philippine women’s football national team, widely konwn as Malditas, lost their opening match against host Myanmar yesterday, but is still hopeful to reach the medal round at the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Mandalar Thiri stadium, Mandalay, Myanmar.
Playing in front of a huge and noisy crowd, all cheering for the host team, the Malditas went down swinging, 2-0, after goals from Khin Malar Tun and Than Than Htwe.
In the first 15 minutes of the game, Myanmar pressured the women’s team like crazy. Maldita’s national coach Ernest Nierras had to switch Morgan Brown and Sarah Cook because Morgan could not hear Patrice Impelido. The girls finally got going until Philippines goal keeper Maria dela Cruz went flailing at a high ball she tried to catch in traffic in the 27th minute of the game. The ball fell to Tun, who adroitly volleyed into the goal for 1-0, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd.
First half of the match ended with 1-0 score.
Hoping to score an equalizer and spark up the team, Chalise Baysa and Raylene Larot were sent in for Morgan Brown and Natasha Alquiros at the start of second half.
The girls looked more aggressive and had more ball possessions at the beginning of the second half, but in the 58th mintue, De la Cruz punched another ball to clear out of her penalty box, but it went straight to an unmarked Htwe, who, from outside the box, calmly steered it over all the other players and into the net for 2-0.
With host team leading 2-0 after an hour of the game, the Malditas still tried their best to score, but with Burmese still playing aggressively amid 2 points lead, the Malditas continued to struggle in building up their attacks from the midfield.
In the 73rd minute the Philippines got their best chance when Houplin, off a breakaway, collected a long pass, outran her marker and released a powerful shot from just within the penalty box. But to her dismay, it sailed just high of the crossbar.
The host team ended the match with 2-0, without giving the Malditas another clear opportunity to score a goal.
Philippines’ starting line-up include Rachel Nichols, Morgan Brown, Alexa Diaz, Sarah Cook, Maria Dela Cruz, Samantha Nierras, Monika Lee, Natasha Alquiros, Patrice Impelido, Megan Marie Jurado and Jesse Anne.
The Maldita goalkeeper Maria De la Cruz is the best performer of the entire match, surprising everybody with many magnificent saves that kept the score at 2-0.
The last time Malditas met Myanmar at the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship last September, Myanmar walloped Philippines 5-1.
Next up for the Malditas is the must win-match against Vietnam on Friday, their last game in the preliminary round. A win against Vietnam can put the Malditas through in the medal round.
Photo Credit : Philippine Women’s National Football Team FB Page