| HO CHI MINH CITY (9 Oct 2008) – Australia, making their debut in the AFF Women’s Championship this year, declared their intentions with a dominant performance against Thailand at the Thanh Long Stadium here today.
The Aussies walked away with a 2-0 win from this Group B encounter with both goals coming substitute striker Victoria Balomenos.
But victory did not come easy for the Australians as the Thais, runners-up in the last championship, battled furiously till the end.
In fact, the rain which came crashing down just five minutes into the match, affected their game.
“The wet ground slowed down our pace; otherwise, I believe the outcome could have been different. We have the speed but were not able to put to full use today to beat their defence,” said Sopit Panomai, the Thai assistant manager.
Australia, probably pleased to have the rain which helped reduce the humidity level, adapted well to the conditions and were the ones calling the shots.
Lauren Colthorpe could have put the Aussies ahead just 10 minutes into the game but headed just wide.
Striker Leena Khamis and Ashleigh Sykes also saw their efforts miss the target.
Everything changed after the break, especially soon after Balomenos came on.
The striker, with a heavily strapped knee, got her scoring act off the ground just 10 minutes after coming on for Khamis, just past the hour mark.
Balomenos stabbed home the loose ball after a strike from teammate Amy Chapman came off the Thai keeper.
With four minutes on the clock, Balomenos ruined any hopes of a late comeback from the spirited Thai players.
“The Thais played very well and made it very tough for us. Their performance today has given us a lot to think about for our remaining matches,” said coach Alistair Edwards, a former star player in Malaysia and Singapore in the 90s.
He added that the players are the best of the up and coming in Australia.
“Many of them are on the brink of making it into the main squad. So the experience of competing here is great for them.”
In another match played out later in the evening, the Philippines defeated Singapore 3-1.
Philippines struck first after only two minutes through Rachelle Siega Delos Reyes whose header sailed into goal.
But Singapore levelled terms just three minutes later when Sun Jie’s freekick made it through.
Ruchell Somogod Latap made it 2-1 in the 23rd minute and the score remained unchanged for the next hour until Marielle Moya Benitez sealed the win two minutes from time.