Malditas relegated to playoff as Thailand books ticket to France

The Malditas still had a chance despite losing to Thailand in their final match in Group A. Mia Montayre/Philippine Football Federation
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--The Philippines tried with all their might against Thailand, but in the end it was just too good for the ASEAN powerhouse as they made their second-ever consecutive Women's World Cup appearance with a classy 3-1 win in their Group A finale in Amman's King Abdullah Stadium, early Friday morning Manila time.

What was once a close encounter in the first half turned into a convincing rout for the Chabakaew, stopping the Malditas anew to book their flight to France by ending their group as runners-up on back-to-back wins, returning to the last four for the first time in 32 years, where they finished third in the fifth edition in Hong Kong.

In the other match, China brushed aside Jordan 8-1 to sweep all their matches and head to the semifinal as group winners.

At the opening whistle, both teams went into attack mode early in an even matched affair, but it was Kearra Bastes-Jones who were the busier goalkeeper, palming away several Thai corners at will.

The Malditas had better quality of their chances, with Marisa Park had her shot saved by Waraporn Boonsing from close range

However, it was the Thais that drew first blood from the spot in the 28th minute, when Tahnai Annis' arm interfered Taneekarn Dangda's shot with Kanjana Sung-Ngoen making no mistake as she tucked away the ensuing penalty out of Bastes-Jones' reach.

Staring at a slim deficit, the Filipinas went to work right away and Annis almost redeemed herself by smashing the ball into the net from close, but Ri Hyang-ok waved away the equalizer on a foul after Waraporn got the ball.

Silawan Intamee had her chance to double the lead went awry in the 35th minute, but the top team of ASEAN are contented with a slim lead at the break.

Thailand then turned the heat at the restart, when they scored twice in less than ten minutes to repeat its mastery over the Cinderella of the tournament.

Kanjana got her brace in the 53rd minute, firing an open shot that left Bastes-Jones no chance after being picked out by Suchawadee Nildhamrong.

Nine minutes later, Silawan deservedly got into the scoresheet by firing a tight-angled free kick near the goal line to put the match beyond any doubt.

However, Waraporn's clean sheet aspirations was quashed in stoppage time after Jesse Shugg fired a late consolation after being found by Jessica Miclat inside the box.

Despite ending their group campaign on back-to-back defeats, the Malditas made the country proud as they made Filipina football history with their best-ever showing in the continental stage, and they still have one more chance to qualify for the Women's World Cup in a playoff for fifth on Tuesday, Manila time against the third-placed team in Group B.

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