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Dushanbe: Jordan secured a comfortable 5-1 win over the Philippines on Wednesday to secure top spot in Group A of the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers.

The victory, Jordan’s fifth of the campaign, saw the West Asians finish five points ahead of a second-placed Philippines side who had already qualified for next year’s continental extravaganza thanks to their opponents’ impending hosting duties.

The eagerly anticipated encounter started evenly at Dushanbe’s Republican Central Stadium, however Luna Almasri was on hand to give Jordan a 15th minute lead when she expertly converted a pinpoint Anfal Alsufy cross.

Stephanie Alnaber then rattled the frame of the Philippines goal, before Maysa Jbarah’s fierce 29th minute drive flew past Maltidas goalkeeper Inna Palacios to double Jordan’s advantage.

With custodian Sherin Rai’d Alshalabe excelling for Jordan, the Philippines struggled to gain a foothold and they were to go further behind on 37 minutes, Jbarah, the qualifying stage’s leading goalscorer, stumbling at first but then regaining her composure to register her 13th goal in five games.

Jordan continued to press after the break, and their fine play was further rewarded a mere two minutes into the second half, Almasri converting Alnaber’s free-kick to bag her second of the day.

Ten minutes later inspirational captain Alnaber drilled home Luna Almasri’s pass to register her ninth strike of the tournament and effectively end the game as a contest.

To their credit the Philippines refused to crumble and responded well, Claire Lim and Anicka Castaneda going close, before Alisha Del Campo notched a deserved consolation goal for the Southeast Asians.

Philippines head coach Letecia Bautista:
“We really tried to contain Jordan but I think the girls didn’t wake up on the right side of the bed today. I commend again Jordan’s performance, but we could’ve done better in terms of scoring and that is one of the things we will try to improve when we get back to the Philippines. After this campaign, hopefully the Philippine Football Federation will fully support us in our preparations ahead of next year’s finals. Some of our players are students, some are working, but we have qualified for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup now and we will need all the support we can get.”

Jordan head coach Abdulla Abu Hantash:
“We promised we would come and top the group, and we did just that. The girls did all they could and they performed very well. We won by a big margin, but this is where we start from, and it’s a strong start. We are sending a clear message - we want to perform well in Jordan at next year’s finals and our target is to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The players will go back to their clubs now, as the league starts on April 21 and lasts for nearly two months. We will still have training once or twice a week and once the league is over, that’s it, practising until the finals, training and camps, playing against strong teams, building up our team.”

Jordan's Maysa Jbarah, tournament top scorer with goals:
“It feels amazing, I knew it from the first match that it was going to be a good campaign for me. We came here to win the group and we did it, it was a team effort. I now hope we can get a good result now in the finals too.”

Photo: Tajikistan Football Federation