After an absence of over two years, big-time international football action returns to the country tomorrow, Monday, as the 13th Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship kicks off at the heritage-rich Rizal Memorial Football Stadium and two other venues.
It will be a grand homecoming for the World Cup-bound Filipinas, bronze medalists in the last 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, who will finally have the chance to play in front of hometown fans against top-ranked Australia in ushering Group A action to cap a trio of matches tomorrow.
Aside from the Australians, the Pinay booters, who arrived last Tuesday after more than a week of training in Europe, are also bracketed in the same group with Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Comprising Group B are defending champion Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Timor Leste, whose matches start on Tuesday, in the competition organized by the Philippine Football Federation.
“We welcome our Philippine national women’s team and the other competing countries in the 12th AFF Women’s Championship. We look forward to exciting and thrilling action from our players in the spirit of fair play sportsmanship,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr.
“Let us all support the Filipinas by coming over to watch and inspire them play at the Rizal Stadium in the next few days,” Araneta said in urging local fans to pack the arena.
“With the exploits of the Filipinas in the last Vietnam SEA Games football competitions still fresh in our memories, local football fans will finally be able to cheer and root for their soccer heroines in the flesh,” noted PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes.
National team manager Jeff Cheng likewise appealed to all Filipinos to support the PH women’s squad, saying: “This might be one of the rare occasions that we will get to see our Filipinas perform in front of a hometown crowd. Let us enjoy them while we can.”
The AFF Women’s Championship is the 12th edition of the premier regional tournament for women that was last held in 2019 Chonburi, Thailand won by Vietnam, which nipped the host squad 1-0 in the finals.
The Filipinas finished fourth in the competition after losing to Myanmar 0-3 in the match for third place and will bank on the Filipino crowd in surpassing that previous performance on their home pitch.