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Malditas fall to China, battle Thailand next

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Philippine Malditas
The Philippine Malditas play Thailand on Friday in an all-important AFC Women’s Asian Cup match. -- AFC WEBSITE

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE Philippine national women’s football team hit a wall late Monday night in its AFC Women’s Asian Cup, losing 3-0 to China in their Group A match at the King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman, Jordan.

The loss dropped the Philippine Malditas to a record of one win and one draw for three points, good for joint second place with Thailand, which they would face in a key match on Thursday night (early Friday morning, Manila time).

A win over the Thai national team earns for the Malditas a semifinal place in the ongoing AFC Women’s Asian Cup as well as a spot in next year’s Women’s World Cup in France. A defeat on the other hand relegates the Philippines to the battle for fifth where it has to win over the third-place team in Group B to earn a World Cup berth.

Group B has Japan, Australia, South Korea and Vietnam battling.

Against China, the Malditas found the going tough notwithstanding they were coming off a high with a 1-0 victory over host Jordan in their tournament opener early Saturday morning.

The Chinese were in the element right from the get-go and had the Philippines on the defensive.

China broke through in the 17th minute care of forward Li Ying to give her team the 1-0 lead, which was to be padded 14 minutes later by defender Ma Jun to give the Chinese a 2-0 cushion by the halftime break.

The Malditas tried to fight back at the start of the second half but Ms. Li would score the second of his brace in the 57th minute to make it 3-0 and pretty much put the game away.

For Malditas coach Rabah Benlarbi, there was no denying that they were badly outplayed by the Chinese and that they could have played better.

“We are a little disappointed with the result because we really did not start the game well,” Mr. Benlarbi was quoted as saying by the AFC Web site after their loss.

“We made some mistakes which allowed China to score two goals and after that I think we found it hard to find a way back into the game. It is probably fair to say that China were a better team than us today, but there are some positives we can take from the game, in as much as we tried to react in the second half and we continued to press China until the very last minute,” he added.

But despite the loss, the Malditas recognize that they still have their tournament and World Cup fate in their hands and vowed to give their all in their all-important match against fellow Southeast Asian team Thailand.

“…The game against Thailand is now a very important one for us. We have some tired players, but we will try to recover over the next two days and be fully prepared for the match,” said Mr. Benlarbi.