AFF Women's Championship

Thailand deny Philippines upset, Malaysia stay alive


Chonburi: Thailand twice came from behind to retain top spot in Group A, while Malaysia kept their semi-final hopes alive as the 2019 AFF Women’s Championship continued at Chonburi IPE Stadium on Wednesday.

The tournament hosts found themselves 2-1 down with more than an hour played against the Philippines, but a Wilaiporn Boothsduang-inspired late surge ensured they extended their winning record with a 4-2 win.

Earlier, Malaysia eased past the now-eliminated Timor-Leste 5-0 and stay in contention for the knockout stage.

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PHILIPPINES 2-4 THAILAND

A brace from Quinley Quezada twice put the Philippines in front and on the verge of a major upset, but three late goals helped Thailand remain atop the group standings with a fighting 4-2 win.

Wilaiporn Boothudang scored twice for Thailand, whose third win in a row means they are likely to finish as Group A winners, although that could all change if they lose to Malaysia on Friday.

Regularly on the wrong end of results against Thailand in recent times, including a 3-1 defeat in a crucial match at last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan, the Philippines gave the Chaba Kaew by far their biggest early test under new head coach Naurephon Kaenson.

With the 17 goals they had piled up in wins over Singapore and Timor-Leste now counting for little, Thailand fell behind to the visitors in the 11th minute, when California-born Quezada timed a run in behind the defence before beating Saita Sutthiboon with a terrific left-footed effort.

The hosts reply was almost immediate, with Jaruwan Chaiyarak arriving to finish off an excellent passing move which carved open the Malditas just five minutes after they’d gone ahead.

With the likes Pitsami Sornsai and Miranda Nild increasingly active, Thailand enjoyed the lion’s share of efforts on goal in the first half, but most of them failed to test Philippines goalkeeper Inna Palacios, allowing Let Dimzon’s side to retain a share of the spoils at the break.

Thailand had the better of the early period of the second-half, but they went behind again when Quezada outthought and outpaced a static defence to bring the ball to within shooting distance and fire the Philippines into a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute.

But thoughts of an upset proved premature, with the Philippines lead once again evaporating within minutes of being established when Boothduang scored with a shot that crawled over the line in the 74th minute, before Rattikan Thonsumbut’s cross supplied Silawan Intamee for a tap-in a minute later as the hosts completed a rapid turnaround.

Boothduang put the result beyond doubt from close range in the 90th minute, as the defending champions emerged from their first major challenge unscathed.

Despite their eventual defeat, the Philippines are well placed to advance from Group A, with a win over bottom-placed Singapore on Friday likely to see them through to the last four.


MALAYSIA 5-0 TIMOR-LESTE

Malaysia ended Timor-Leste’s hopes of knockout stage football, and further reinvigorated their own, with a comprehensive 5-0 win in Wednesday’s earlier match.

Sihaya Ajad and Dadree Rofinus scored two goals apiece to help Malaysia to their second win in a row, which takes them to six points from three matches ahead of Friday’s final Group A match against Thailand.

Malaysia had put four goals past Timor-Leste in last year’s tournament, but they scored only once in the first half, with Ajad benefitting from a fumble from goalkeeper Agostinha Nogueira to hit the target in the 16th minute.

Jacob Joseph’s side had to wait until the hour mark to add to their tally, but the floodgates opened once they did, with four goals flying in in the final third of the match.

Rofnis took advantage of ample space to beat Nogueira for the second, before scoring a terrific free-kick six minutes later, with Norhanisa Yahya finding the net with another set-piece to equal the 2018 score line in the 78th minute.

Ajad finished what she started, once again pouncing on a poor piece of goalkeeping, to add the fifth and final goal from point-blank range as Malaysia put the seal on an emphatic win.

With Malaysia now potentially one win away from their first AFF Women’s Championship semi-final since 2007, all eyes now turn to Friday’s clash against Thailand, while Timor-Leste end a campaign which produced their first international win, against Singapore last Thursday.

Photos: Football Association of Thailand

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