By JONAS TERRADO
Chandler McDaniel scored late in the second half in the most bizarre fashion and the national women’s football team shocked Thailand, 1-0, Friday, Jan. 21 to end a long dry spell against its Southeast Asian neighbor for an auspicious start in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.
In just her second tournament with the team, McDaniel delivered the winning goal, aided by a goalkeeper howler, in the 81st minute of the match held at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai as the Philippines beat Thailand for the first time.
McDaniel made a long attempt from more than 20 yards, with the ball looking like it would bounce straight into the gloves of Thailand goalkeeper Waraporn Boosing.
But the veteran keeper looked like she had butterfingers, and the ball slipped out of her hands before it went past the goal line, prompting Japanese referee Miko Okamoto to award the score to McDaniel.
And with help from the rest of her teammates, including sister Olivia who had a clean sheet as starting goalkeeper, the Philippines finally got a victory over Thailand after losing their 12 previous encounters.
“It’s a special win for the country,” said the team’s Australian coach Alen Stajcic, a winner in his first match in charge.
The break that allowed the Philippines to gain the full three points came after it was denied an early chance to take the lead when debutant Katrina Guillou’s goal courtesy of McDaniel’s cross was disallowed when the linesman’s flag was up for an offside.
Replays showed Guillou clearly ahead of her defender, negating what was an impressive volley. Still, it gave the team the confidence it needed to eventually get the result in the end.
The win allowed the Pinay booters to quickly reap the rewards of training the last two months in Irvine, California which McDaniel earlier in the week said was beneficial for the squad.
It also enhanced the team’s chances of making the quarterfinals, given to the top two teams and the possibly the third placer in Group B, of the continental tournament which also serves as a qualifier for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.