SECOND place may not be the result Filipino football fans wanted for the Philippine U14 girls’ national team in the just-concluded AFC U-14 Girls’ Regional Championship 2016.
But it left a strong message among their Southeast Asian neighbors that they are only one win away from beating the best in the region.
The young Filipinas tasted their back-to-back loss to Thailand in the finals. Two years ago, the Philippines suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Thais and the one-nil on Sunday at Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane, Laos is a proof we are almost there.
Thailand’s forward Phattharanit Duangkaew drew first blood in the 19th minute goal as coach Joyce Bernardo Landangan tried for a quick equalizer led by skipper and striker Carleigh Frilles.
Their effort seemed not enough to even the scoreboard as Thailand kept lead at the half, one-nil and sustained it until the end.
Both sides came out aggressive in the final half, but the Thais put up a strong defense in the back line to prevent an equalizer.
Thailand’s Pattaranan Aupachai claimed the Most Valuable Player award as Myanmar’s Myat Noe Khin won the Golden Boot with four goals in the tournament.
In the battle for third, defending champion Vietnam, which defeated Thailand in last year’s tournament finals, survived the Fair Play awardee Myanmar, 2-1.
Back in 2014, both countries also had a face-off in the finals with Thailand as victors. Aside from bringing home runner-up honors, the Philippines was also named Fair Play awardee while Joyce Omboy Semacio earned the Most Valuable Player title. (Henry G. Doble)