Looking to build a new winning tradition, the Philippine national women’s football team left for Vietnam Monday night to compete in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championships in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Malditas, who failed to get past the group stages in the previous four editions of the tournament, will field what could be its best lineup in years in the hope of making at least a finals appearance in the competition.
“Our objective is to make it to the finals. What happens in the finals, we don’t know,” Malditas coach Ernie Nierras said.
Spearheading the squad is team captain Marielle Benitez, a three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player from La Salle. The team also boasts a number of foreign-born players such as Filipino-Americans Heather Cooke, Ashley O’Connor, Abby Komarc, Angeline and Patrice Impelido, Fil-Australian Nenita Burgess, and Fil-Canadian Mallory Dayot.
The Malditas will also be bolstered by current and former UAAP standouts Louella Amamio, Jowee-Ann Barruga, Aisa Mondero and Marice Magdolot from University of Santo Tomas; Inna Palacios, Samantha Nierras and Natasha Alquiros from La Salle; Isabella Fernando and Kathleen Rodriguez from Ateneo; Etang Ladero and Vanessa Mondero from Far Eastern University; and Cristina Delos Reyes from University of the Philippines.
The Malditas will face Myanmar, a finalist last year, in the tournament opener on Thursday, followed by 2010 champion and host Vietnam on Friday, and Singapore on September 17 to complete their matches in Group A.
To get out of the group stages, the Filipinas need to finish in the top two of their group to advance to the crossover semifinals, where they will clash with the two best teams in Group B that features defending champion Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos.
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