The Philippine Star

U-14 girls out to give AFC foes tough fight

- – Olmin Leyba

The Philippine­s expects to give its rivals in the 2016 Asean Football Confederat­ion (AFC) Under-14 Girls’ Regional Championsh­ip for the Asean zone in Laos a run for their money.

Coach Joyce Landagan said they have pooled together the technicall­y good and intelligen­t youngsters and prepared them for at least one full month for the May 31June 5 tourney.

The Phl girls are bunched with host Laos, favorite Thailand and Cambodia in Group A. The other group is comprised of Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

“I think kaya natin lumaban nang maganda (we’ll be competitiv­e against our rivals),” Landagan said yesterday on “The Football Connection” program on DZSR.

The coaching staff draws confidence from the girls’ performanc­e in the Jenesys Asean U-14 football exchange program last March in Japan, where they beat Laos, 1-0, and lost a close 1-2 decision to the Thais.

Phl U-14 girls will open their campaign against the Laotians on May 31, then tackle holder Thailand the next day and Cambodia on June 2. The Filipinas will seek to finish in the top 2 of the group to reach the crossover semis.

“We need to win at least two games (to progress to the semis),” said Landagan.

The country had previously achieved success in the AFC U-14 Girls’ Regionals as it won a historic silver medal in the 2014 edition. Landagan was an assistant coach on that team.

“We have a stronger team now. They’re technicall­y good,” said Landagan.

The finalists in the Asean meet will advance to the tournament AFC U-14 Girls’ Championsh­ip, where Bangladesh, India, Jordan and Bahrain have already qualified from the first two zones.

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