PHNOM PENH: The Philippines women’s football team battled to a 2-1 win over rivals Vietnam Tuesday in the meeting of their region’s two World Cup-bound teams, but still crashed out of the Southeast Asian Games on goal difference. In an at-times-rough encounter, Thi Bich Thuy Nguyen cancelled out Sarina Bolden’s converted penalty in the first half, before Filipinas captain Hali Long secured the three points with an 82nd-minute goal.
But that proved insufficient, as Myanmar battered Malaysia 5-1 in the other Group A game to progress as runners-up to Vietnam, San Thaw Thaw and July Kyaw with a brace each. The Philippines’ next major engagement will be the World Cup in July and August in Australia and New Zealand. And coach Alen Stajcic said beating one of Asia’s top teams for the second time in a row – after a 4-0 win over Vietnam last year – showed “we can compete at this level”.
“The next step of our evolution is to do it every game,” he said, after a group stage hobbled by a 1-0 opening loss to Myanmar. “It’s still a very, very young team. I know that we’ve got a lot more good times ahead of us.” In Group B, Thailand beat Cambodia 3-0 to go through as winners. They will play Myanmar in the semi-finals, while Cambodia face Vietnam. Singapore beat Laos 2-1 to take third place. The semi-finals will be played on May 12, with the final three days later.
A Cambodian athlete won a special place in her compatriots’ affections after persevering to complete the women’s 5,000m in torrential rain at the Southeast Asian Games, despite the winner having finished nearly six minutes earlier. When Bou Samnang did make it over the line, she broke down in tears, joining her palms in thanks to her supporters. The winner, Vietnamese athletics star Nguyen Thi Oanh, had already finished the race, five minutes and 54 seconds earlier. The second-last-placed competitor, the aptly named Run Romdul, was also from Cambodia, which is hosting the Games in the capital Phnom Penh. “Although you lost, you won the hearts of Cambodia,” wrote Facebook user Mao Vanthan.
Another user, Chanphal Ngy, was equally effusive: “We dropped tears with you… You will be successful in life as your wishes.” “Your resilience is a true inspiration to all of us,” chimed in Kong Dara. “Your commitment to pushing through the challenges, maintaining a positive attitude, and never giving up on yourself is a testament to your strength and character. “You may not have won the race, but you have won our admiration and respect for your unwavering spirit.” She also won a $250 bonus from information minister Khieu Kanharith, according to a ministry official. — AFP