For the first time since 2003, the Philippine Women’s National Team, also known as the Malditas, is set to take part in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan in 2018.
The Malditas were drawn into Group A of the qualification stages which was hosted by Tajikistan in the city of Dushanbe. Along with the hosts, the Philippines competed against the likes of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Bahrain, and Jordan. Throughout five games played from April 3 to 12 , the Philippines came in at second place with 10 points from three wins, one draw, and one defeat.
Lasallians shine anew
DLSU Football goalkeeper Inna Palacios once again proved to be a vital cog as she kept three clean sheets and oversaw the stingy Filipina defense. Once again orchestrating the Philippines’ fluent offense, Sara Castaneda finished as the team’s co-leading scorer with four goals. Fellow midfielder Irish Navaja had a dream debut for the Malditas after much anticipation and finished with a goal and an assist in their opening match against the UAE.
In three appearances, defender Cristine Duran made her mark, particularly in the Philippines’ 8-0 crushing of Tajikistan where she scored in the 90th minute. Although Nina Arrieta was not utilized, she provided depth to the Malditas’ roster with her ability to play at the midfield and on defense.
As of press time, La Salle will resume its UAAP Season 79 campaign versus the UP Lady Maroons on Wednesday, April 19, at 1:30 pm at the FEU-Diliman Field. The Lasallians’ international exposure will be invaluable, although fatigue and injuries may be a concern.
“I just told the girls to take care, not to get injured, because when they come back, they have to prove another point here when we continue in the UAAP. We don’t want a repeat of last year’s [runner-up finish],” shared DLSU head coach Hans Smit prior to the qualifiers.
Asia’s Elite Eight
Joining the Philippines in the upcoming Women’s Asian Cup are Jordan, Australia, China, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and last but not the least, defending champion Japan. The competition will also double as the final qualifier for the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Women’s World Cup which is set to be hosted by France in 2019. Tickets to the World Cup will await the top five teams of the continental tournament.
The Women’s Asian Cup will prove to be a barometer for the Malditas as teams will vie to not only become the continent’s finest, but to earn the right to play in the grandest stage of international football.