Ignacius Carell Cruz and John Rei Salanga

The Philippines will make its inaugural run in the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup after stealing a narrow point match from home team Vietnam, 1-0, in the final do-or-die game of the qualifiers on Sunday in Vietnam Youth Football Training Center, Hanoi.

Photo Courtesy of Daily Tribune Sports

The young Filipinas will find themselves in yet another competitive scene next year as they face defending champions Japan, runners-up North Korea, China, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, and hosts Indonesia for the Asian Cup.

With the ball being in the Philippines’ possession for most of the first half, the blue jerseys struggled to penetrate through goalkeeper Le Thi Thu’s exceptional defense as the game remained scoreless entering halftime.

After 56 minutes of insufficient offense, Isabella Preston starred in the game’s climax as she capitalized on a free kick off Tea Pidding’s foul, launching the ball top-corner to finally pierce through the Vietnamese wall with the berth-setting goal.

Moments later, previous brace-maker Mathelus dropped a golden opportunity to make it a comfortable two-point match after sending a one-on-one attempt wide as the game remained too close to call. 

At that point, it was an unsettling game of defense for the Philippines as they endeavored to deny a Vietnam equalizer for the rest of the match.

The eventual expiration of the clock marked the Philippines’ successful defensive bout as they joined Australia in Group B’s Top 2 with a 2-1 win-loss record to clinch a spot in the U17 Women’s Asian Cup for the first time in history.

Despite a devastating succumbing to Group B winner Australia, the Philippines’ chances refused to wither as a victory over Bangladesh and a Vietnam defeat to Australia handed the young Filipinas a final chance to qualify for the Asian Cup through a winner-takes-all classic with home-advantaged Vietnam. 

The ladies in blue are set to take part in the the 2024 AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup in Indonesia from April 7 to 20, next year.

Edited by John James Girao