Thailand face Philippines in tournament opener

Both Thailand and The Philippines will play their first match of the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai, on Friday, 21st January 2022, at 7pm Thailand time.

Interestingly both head coaches are the debutants for their new side.

Even though this is the first time both coaches take charge of their teams, the Philippines’ new coach Alen Stajčić has a slight advantage over Miyo Okamoto of Thailand. The Australian-Serbian coach previously managed Sydney FC Women from 2008 to 2014 and the Matildas, the Australian WNT, from 2014 to 2019. He is also the figure who found the talent of international phenomenon striker Sam Kerr, who plays for Chelsea FC Women today.

*Miyo Okamoto took charge at the end of 2021 for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers.

Stajčić will not have difficulty managing Malditas (the Philippines National Team nickname), even though the local women’s league hasn’t been held since 2019 because the squad comprises American-Filipino students who play in the United States’ NCAA competition. This will bring a new level of competition for both sides. Chaba Kaew players’ are still competitive as the local league was played last year, with league champions BG Bundit Asia supplying the most players to the squad.

Two Thai players had the same experience playing in the NCAA: it will be a good move for Okamoto to start goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao and striker Miranda Nild first against the Philippines. Miranda will also face off against Philippines defender, Katrina Guillou, both of whom play in the Swedish Damallsvenskan. Miranda plays for Kristianstads DFF, who qualified for UEFA Women’s Champions League 1st round play-off. In contrast, Katrina plays for Piteå IF, were nearly relegated to the second division.

Miranda Nild in action against the Maldiltas when both sides met in 2018

On the other side, the Malditas striking duo play in the Japanese WE League: Sarina Bolden (25 years old/AS Elfen Saitama) and Quinley Quezada (24 years old/JEF United Chiba Ladies) will be the main threat for the Chaba Kaew’s defense, led by captain Sunisa Srangthaisong and Warunee Phetwiset.

The previous meeting between Thailand and the Philippines came in the group stage of the 2018 Asian Women’s Cup in Jordan, in which the Chaba Kaew won 3-1. However, the pitch and dugout changes mean this will be a very different game.

We predict that Thailand can get their first three points in this game, but it won’t be easy as the Philippines is now a completely different squad from 2018 and could well spring a surprise at this tournament.

F.X. Steven

Football Addict, Philosophy Student and an Amateur Poet.

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