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PWNFT confidence at a high heading to Thailand showdown, says McDaniel

Everything this batch of the Philippine Women’s National Football team comes to a culmination in the next few days.

Qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand is the goal and it all begins this week in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.

“I think the preparations are going well,” said national team forward Chandler McDaniel. “I think it’s nice that we got to fly out to India a few days earlier than we did as compared to Uzbekistan. I think it’s helping all of us to adjust because I think for a lot of the girls this is the longest flight they’ve ever been on.

“I know for me it is. I think that with everything that has happened and all the coaches have done for us, the preparations are going very well.”

After spending two months in a training camp in Irvine, California, in the USA under the supervision of coach Alen Stajcic and his staff, the players are raring to go.

There is cautious optimism within the group that they can add to the country’s tally of four wins in 32 matches played in the continent’s biggest tournament.

2022-Asian-Cup-PWNFT-Anicka-Castaneda PWNFT confidence at a high heading to Thailand showdown, says McDaniel Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

Photo from PWNFT

“I think the two months that we had really helped,” said midfielder Anicka Castaneda. “That was enough time for us to learn the playing style that he wants us to play. I think we’re all on the same page and we all know how he wants us to play.”

“Not many teams get to train and live with each other consistently for two months,” added McDaniel. “I think that that is a big factor in what will help us succeed in this tournament. We mainly learned how Coach Alen wants us to play and his playing style and I think all of us adjusted very well and I think that we’re all on the same page.

“I think that everything we learned in camp has definitely transitioned and made us into a different team while we’re in Mumbai so I think it will all help us going forward.”

Just as in any sporting endeavor, competing for flag and country brings an added weight on the players’ shoulders.

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International recognition is at stake and the potential reward is bigger now with the carrot of World Cup qualification hanging right in front of these Filipinas.

2022-AFC-Womens-Asian-Cup-qualifiers-Philippines-def-Nepal PWNFT confidence at a high heading to Thailand showdown, says McDaniel Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

Photo from PFF

“I think we all have to live with the pressure but I think it’s ok and how I deal with it personally also, I like to pray a lot and just lift it up to the Lord because He is the only one who can truly help us and it’s all up to Him if it’s according to His plan. That’s how I personally deal with the pressure,” said Castaneda.

“I think that everyone feels a little bit of pressure but I think that just shows how important it is. I feel like all of us feel some pressure because we all know how big of a tournament this is and how the country is depending on us. I don’t think the pressure is a bad thing but for me personally, I just… kind of take it step-by-step and you look to the Lord to give you the strength to keep going. Though I think. we also lean on each other,” echoed McDaniel.

“I think we’re all dealing with it pretty well.”

For six players in the squad, it will be their first time to represent the Philippines at the senior level in their careers.

Katrina Guillou, Kiara Fontanilla, Dominique Randle, and Isabel Flanigan are making their first appearance for the Philippines while former youth players Keanne Alamo and Carleigh Frilles are making their seniors’ team debut.

All of them bring something new to the table and they have assimilated well with those who cam been through different campaigns throughout the years.File-photo-katrina-guillou PWNFT confidence at a high heading to Thailand showdown, says McDaniel Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

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“I think that girls saw how we did in the last tournament and then they reached out (that) they want to come to camp because I know Katrina (Guillou), for example, is one of the newer players. I have never met her before and I have been here for a while,” said McDaniel.

“I think it’s really good to have some new faces in and it’s really good because it will help grow the program because if more girls keep coming in, we can continue to get better and better.”

The first test in Group B for the Philippines comes this Friday when they take on Thailand at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. The country is yet to register a win over the Thais and where better to end that drought than in the Asian Cup.

“I know that the team has faced Thailand multiple times and there are a lot of girls on the team who have played them as well as some who haven’t played them before. But I think our confidence going in is very high,” said McDaniel.

“We all know that this first game is very important and how we do in this first game will show how we will do in the rest of the tournament but I think everyone is going in with very high confidence and I think that everyone believes in each other because of the all the training camps we’ve done so I think it’s gonna be a very good game.”

Ultimately, McDaniel, Castaneda, and the rest of the team are looking forward to shocking the continent to make it to the world stage. It is all about giving everything on the pitch and they would not have it any other way.

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“I think the message is just to focus on the goal and what we’re here to do – and that’s to make it to the World Cup,” said Castaneda.

“I think the coaches really made it clear what the goal is and how we should focus on it.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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