Malditas battle South Korea for final spot in Women’s World Cup
MANILA--The Philippine women’s national football team faces a history-defining moment in their bid to qualify to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The Philippine Malditas will take on South Korea in the fifth-place playoff of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on Monday evening (1 a.m. on Tuesday in Manila), at the Amman International Stadium in Jordan.
The winner of the match will secure the last spot to the Women’s World Cup next year.
Both teams head to the crucial play-off having finished third in their respective groups. The Philippines had one win and two losses in Group A, while South Korea had one win and two draws in Group B.
The Philippines won against host Jordan in the group stage, but lost their last two assignments against China and Thailand.
Philippine head coach Rabah Benlarbi said his players must cherish the moment heading into what may be the biggest match of their lives.
“The Philippines have absolutely nothing to lose as nobody really expected us to be in the position that we find ourselves in,” said the French coach. “We must give our all, as we have 90 minutes to reach the World Cup. It is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime moment for my players.”
Benlarbi also credited Korea’s run in the tournament. The East Asian side put on a solid defensive effort to force a scoreless draw against both Japan and Australia before defeating Vietnam in their final group game.
“I am a little surprised to be playing Korea Republic as they were one of the best teams in Group B and deserved, in my opinion, to go to the semi-finals and of course the World Cup,” he said.
from Mia Montayre/PFF