AFTER a series of frustrating developments, Philippine football has gotten a string of good news over the last two days.
First, the Philippine Women’s National Team got off to a winning start in the second round of the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers yesterday in Doha, Qatar at the expense of higher ranked Iran with a 2-0 scoreline.
After a scoreless first half where Iran controlled the tempo of the match, the Filipinas switched to high gear early in the second half and scored two goals in a span of five minutes, first by Joyce Semacio in the 47th minute, followed by Alisha Del Campo in the 52nd.
And last Wednesday night in the 2019 AFC Cup group stage, Ceres-Negros stayed unbeaten after edging Indonesian champions Persija Jakarta with a 1-0 win at home in Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, thanks to an early goal by Bienvenido Marañon.
The big win solidifies Ceres’s lead in Group G with nine points, ahead of Becamex Binh Duong (4), Persija (4), and winless Shan United of Myanmar (0.)
The night before, Kaya FC Iloilo offered its share of good news by holding hosts PSM Makassar to a 1-1 draw, courtesy of a last-minute equalizer from Marwin Angeles away in Bogor City, Indonesia.
With the draw, Kaya also leads Group H with 5 points by goal difference ahead of PSM with a similar 5 points, Home United (4) and Lao Toyota (1).
The impressive performances of the two Philippine clubs in the regional tournament is a timely reminder for the domestic league organizers to get their act together.
While our clubs are doing us proud in the region, the powers-that-be are struggling to put together something as basic as a domestic league. True, kickstarting the Philippine Premier League has proven to be a challenge, but fans losing their patience and interest will be an even bigger problem if new management fails to get its house in order.
As for the PWNT, overcoming a big hurdle like higher-rated Iran is the perfect start in the second round of their Olympic qualifiers campaign. The Philippines is 74th in the FIFA ranking while Iran is 66th.
A bigger challenge awaits the Filipinas this Sunday, however, as they face former tormentors Chinese-Taipei. The last time the two squads met, in the first round last November, Taipei blanked the Pinays 5-0.
And unlike the first round where the top two teams in their group advanced, the second round would send only the top team to the next round of qualifications.
That means the Philippines must defeat Chinese Tapei (40th) this Sunday, as well as prevail over Palestine (111th) on April 10. Since the Philippines is ranked 34 notches lower than Taipei in the FIFA ranking, the odds are stacked against our ladies.
But this is football, and stranger things have happened. The Philippines can achieve the improbable to advance to the next round. But they need — and deserve — our collective cheers. Win or lose.
On its Facebook Page, the Philippine Women’s National Team is calling on all Filipinos to lend their support anew to our ladies for the second round of the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers.
Let’s heed the call, shall we?