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Live: Australia face former coach Alen Stajcic’s Philippines in Asian Cup

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Kumusta kayo and welcome to ABC’s live coverage of the Matildas’ second Asian Cup group game against the Philippines!

My name is Samantha Lewis and I’ll be taking you through what’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing match-ups of Group B.

Not only are the Philippines now coached by former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic, who oversaw Australia from 2014-2019, but the team are now also in with a real shot at qualifying for the knock-outs after a stunning defeat of 2018 semi-finalists Thailand in their first group game last week.

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The Philippines have undergone a bit of revolution under Stajcic who cast a wide net across the world to find all players of Filipino heritage to come and represent their nation for this tournament.

This search pulled in a number of players from the USA college system – renowned as one of the best development systems in women’s football – who gathered for an extensive training camp in California in the build-up to the Asian Cup. Their performance against Thailand suggests that extra effort is already paying off for the side ranked 64th in the world.

However, the Matildas are out-and-out favourites to take all three points from this match, particularly after their utter deconstruction of Indonesia on Friday.

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There were a number of talking-points that emerged from that 18-0 defeat from an Australian perspective, including player selections, rotations, and whether tournament matches against lesser-ranked opponents should be used more strategically to give minutes to younger and emerging players.

But as I wrote about afterwards, there were plenty of positives to take from the match – especially from the point-of-view of the Indonesians, who taught us a thing or two about being humble and recognising our responsibility as a leader in women’s football across Asia.

Will Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson listen to the fans and make wholesale changes against the Philippines tonight? Or will he continue with his philosophy of rekindling chemistry and respecting their opponents by fielding a strong line-up?

What are you hoping to see from tonight?

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