Amidst the DLSU Women’s Football Team’s spectacular performance so far, a number of its members have also been named to the pool of players for the Philippine Women’s National Team. The Malditas, as they are fondly called, are set to take part in the qualifying round later in April for the upcoming 2018 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Women’s Asian Cup. They are slated to play in Group A in Dushanbe, Tajikistan versus the host country, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates.
The qualifiers are set to take place in the middle of the UAAP season. As to possible conflicts, La Salle head coach Hans Smit mentioned that the involved parties have been coordinating on the situation. “Before we started the year, I already told the organizers that we need to support the national team. Scheduling, that’s easy already, since the women’s division team has lesser teams than the men’s.”
He added that a number of games may be rescheduled and played on the weekdays. “Most likely there will be two scheduled match days that will be affected,” he elaborated.
Sophomore Sara Castaneda’s statement also echoed that of Smit, “I also heard that they are moving the schedule of the UAAP games so that we could focus more on the National Team and then after that, [attention will be on the] UAAP again.”
Representing the Green-and-White
Led by veteran goalkeeper Inna Palacios and Castaneda, La Salle will seek to make its mark in the international level. Joining the duo and were invited are Cristine Duran, Irish Navaja, Kyra Dimaandal, Nina Arrieta, and Kyla Inquig.
Palacios and Castaneda are no strangers to the international level. The prior has captained the Malditas since the year 2015. Meanwhile, the latter made her debut for the national team in the same year and has been a regular presence in the midfield. Their experience in particular will prove to be invaluable to their teammates from Taft. Dimaandal in particular, who suited up for the Philippines in the youth level, is new to the senior national team.
“We can help [our teammates] by letting them remember to just play the way they would normally play, not to really think about it too much and to just enjoy,” Castaneda said.
With the UAAP season ongoing, the Lasallians will have to balance their studies, suiting up for the Green-and-White, and training with the Malditas. Despite the situation, the players remain upbeat. “It’s been tiring, but fun. We have to train [in the] morning and afternoon. On top of that, there are times I have to rush from class [to training],” Dimaandal said on the situation at hand.
Palacios cited that focus will be a major factor in handling their commitments. “I think we just have to know where we’re at, at that moment, and then focus on what we have in front rather than looking it as a whole.” She explained further, “Baka scattered lang yung mindset so whatever we have in front, that’s what we’ll have to focus on.”