The Philippine national women’s football team hopes to overcome its inexperience in international play in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Unlike their male counterparts the Azkals who have had the chance to go up against teams from all over the globe, the Malditas have had few opportunities to play against international opposition. In fact, their game against Myanmar in the tournament opener on Thursday will be their first international match since playing in the same competition a year ago.
Despite that, Malditas striker Heather Cooke is still confident about their chances this year.
“I think a lot of the girls that were here last year have matured and are ready to meet this challenge,” she said.
Cooke admitted that inexperience took its toll on them last year, when the Malditas failed to win any of their matches. But the Fil-Am standout believes that their performance would be different this time around.
“We just have this problem with the nerves for some reason,” Cooke said. “But this year, we’ll try to take the pressure off ourselves and come in and do our job.”
Even though they lacki international experience, Malditas coach Ernie Nierras believes that they had the best preparation ever ahead of the tournament, with the squad playing in 30 practice games during their eight-month training.
“Unlike last year na medyo hirap tayo, we are able to address all the needs this time,” Nierras said. “Because of progression, we will be well-prepared against other teams.”
After their match against last year’s finalist Myanmar on Thursday, the Malditas will face 2010 champion and host Vietnam on Friday and Singapore on September 17 to complete their matches in Group A.
The Malditas need to finish in the top two of their bracket to advance to the crossover semifinals and clash with the two best teams in Group B which features defending champion Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Laos.