THE Philippine national women’s football team plunges into action in the 2019 AFF Women’s Championship in Thailand today with an eye on making a run for a podium finish this time around.
Failed to go deep in recent iterations of the tournament organized by the ASEAN Football Federation, the Malditas are angling for a better finish in this edition of the championship while also looking to kick their Southeast Asian Games preparations into a higher gear.
Happening in Chonburi, the Philippine team is bracketed in Group A of the competition along with host Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Timor-Leste.
The Malditas, whose campaign is being supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and MVP Sports Foundation, will play Malaysia first today at IPE Chonburi Field 1 followed by Timor-Leste on Aug. 17.
They then play Thailand on Aug. 21 before finishing their group play assignment two days later.
Tournament format calls for the top two teams in the two groupings advancing to the knockout stage.
Group B has Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.
For the 2019 AFF Women’s Championship, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) formed a 23-player squad culled from the various University Athletic Association of the Philippines teams and PFF Women’s League clubs.
The players are Mari Caparros, Stacey Cavill, Inna Palacios, Mea Bernal, Alesa Dolino, Chelo Hodges, Mary Lam, Claire Lim, Hali Long, Tara Shelton, Calah Simarago and Sara Castañeda.
Also part of the team are Eloiza Fagsao, Patrice Impelido (captain), Kyla Inquig, Charisa Lemoran, Hazel Lustan, Rocelle Mendano, Irish Navaja, Kathleen Rodriguez, Dionesa Tolentin, Alisha Del Campo and Quinly Quezada.
The team started preparation for the tournament in late June that saw them play tune-up matches along the way.
The bad weather in the recent weeks made practicing outdoor tough but the team made up for it by training indoors.
“We’re ready for the tournament. We had some challenges during training because of the heavy rain in the last couple of weeks which forced us to cancel some training sessions. But we also did indoor training to make up for some of the lost time,” said Malditas coach Let Dimzon at the team’s send-off last weekend, as she spoke of the preparation they had.
“We had a number of tune-up games, including one against Macau, which we used as gauge of where we are,” she added.
Ms. Dimzon went on to say that key for them is polishing their attacking and sticking to their game plan.
For Ms. Impelido, the team being together for a long time now is something they are banking on.
“This team has been together for a time now. We have team chemistry which is good for the team heading into the tournament. We are excited and confident to make a run at a podium finish,” said the Malditas captain.
“The Philippine Women’s National Team has continuously set the bar in the recent times,” said PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes of the Malditas, who vied for the first time for a World Cup berth in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
“We wish them luck as they look for a podium finish in the AFF Women’s Championship 2019 which serves as preview for the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games,” he added.
The 30th SEA Games happens this Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 here in the country.
ARANETA IS OLYMPIC CDM
Meanwhile, PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. was appointed chef de mission (CDM) of the Philippine delegation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The appointment of Mr. Araneta, who is at the helm of the PFF since 2010, was announced at the Philippine Olympic Committee general assembly on Tuesday.
“It is a great honor to represent the country and our national athletes as the Chef de Mission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We look forward to this upcoming campaign as we yearn for our first-ever Olympic gold medal,” said Mr. Araneta of his appointment.