THE Philippines booked a spot in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup after beating Hong Kong, 2-1, on Thursday night at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Needing a draw to advance, the Malditas made sure to close the qualifiers on the high note as Chandler McDaniel scored the winner in the 87th minute to secure top spot in Group F with six points.
The thrilling win, a fitting follow-up to the 2-1 win over Nepal last week, enabled the Malditas to make the Asian Cup for the second consecutive time following its breakthrough appearance back in 2018.
“We are truly delighted by this remarkable achievement,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta. “Qualification to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice made by the players and the coaching staff and the support of sponsors and stakeholders.”
McDaniel outplayed the Hong Kong defense to score the go-ahead goal in her Malditas debut, preserving the efforts of Tahnai Annis, who scored her second goal of the competition in the 17th with a header off a cross by Rochelle Mendano.
Hong Kong equalized with Chung Pui-ki scoring on a free kick in the 61st minute, giving themselves a chance to steal the win and the AFC spot.
But the Malditas’ defense held on and the Marlon Maro-coached side was rewarded with the marginal goal that completed the sweep of the tournament.
The victory enabled the Malditas to book a spot in the competition to be held from January 20 to February 6. The eight group winners will join defending champion Japan, Australia, China, and host India in the tournament.
The Malditas were coming off a month-long training in Irvine, California in their buildup for the qualifiers of both the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023.
“We cannot rest on this achievement. We will leave no stone unturned in preparing the team in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, where the Top 5 teams will qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023,” said Araneta.
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