Eva Madarang is focused on the future now that she has rejoined the Philippine Women’s National Football team for their campaign in the 19th Asian Games.
The 26-year-old defender, who has scored 12 goals in 49 caps for the Filipinas, was called up for the continental games after being excluded from the final lineup that competed in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup group stage matches in New Zealand.
“It feels really good. It’s been a couple of months, so seeing all my friends back for this tournament is really nice because we’re like a family here. So being with my teammates again, it’s really nice,” said Madarang.
Getting cut from any team is always difficult for every athlete. What made Madarang’s case so challenging was that the competition in question was the World Cup, and her departure from the team’s camp was made public thanks to a viral photo of her carrying her luggage at an airport.
Despite missing out on what may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship gold medalist did not express any disappointment. For her, she has a job to do in the next few days, which is helping the Filipinas perform well in their Asian Games debut.
“I wouldn’t say it’s like redemption. I mean, I’ve been with the team for years and I’ve been cut from a tournament before, so it’s not like I’m going to redeem myself by going to another tournament. I’m committed to this team,” said Madarang.
“Like I said before, they’re my family, my friends. So not getting chosen for a tournament is not going to alter my decision to play for the Philippines.”
Now that she is back on the team, Madarang wants to make up for lost time. She has played with many of her current teammates in past campaigns, even before the Alen Stajcic era.
This familiarity will be a big factor for the Filipinas, especially considering the short turnaround for the team after their World Cup participation roughly two months ago.
“I feel like because we’ve been together for so long, many of us have been on the team for at least the last two years or even the last five years, I feel like the team chemistry is pretty good,” said the 31st Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist.
“Like I said before, we’re like family, so I feel like because we’re like family, we support each other, and I feel like the pressure is a little bit lifted because we can support each other as family members and as really good friends because we’ve been with each other for a long time.”
Madarang and her teammates will enter this tournament under the guidance of coach Mark Torcaso, who faces the challenging task of continuing the success brought by Stajcic and his staff.
Entering a new tournament with a new coaching staff is always challenging, especially with limited training time. Amidst the growing pains, the team’s goal is to win a gold medal in the Asian Games. It will be difficult, but just like in their previous campaigns, the Filipinas will give it their best shot.
“We’ve only had a couple of training sessions together. I think it’s been pretty good. The environment with everyone, the intensity is still the same,” said Madarang.
“I feel like we have to trust our coach. Obviously, we’ve only had a couple of training sessions, and they’ve been good training sessions. Definitely, we have to trust in him, and I’m really excited to come into this first game to see it all come together.”