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PWNFT eye deep run in AFF tourney

The Philippine Women’s National Football Team is currently in Chonburi, Thailand, where they will take part in the AFF Women’s Championship set to take place from August 15 to August 27.

Recently crowned 67th best team in the world, the Pinays will open the yearly ASEAN meet against 90th-ranked Malaysia at 4:00 p.m. Philippine time. They will then face unranked Timor-Leste on Friday, August 17 at 4:00 p.m., before meeting the toughest opponent of their group, 39th best team in the world, Thailand on Wednesday, August 21 at 7:00 p.m. On Friday, August 23 the Filipinas will close out the preliminary stage against 123rd-ranked Singapore at 4:00 p.m.

Recognizing the fortune of being drawn into a group that is not as difficult as it was in previous years – and with Thailand only as the perceived real threat – head coach Let Dimzon knows that reaching the last four is a must.

“We don’t know how the other teams have developed, but we have to beat those three teams first. We can give Thailand a good fight,” Dimzon said.

With the tournament something of a dress rehearsal before the team’s premier event in the Southeast Asian Games later this year, Dimzon wants to kill two birds with one stone.

“Our goal is to get to the semifinals because the teams there will most likely be the ones playing in the SEA Games. Then with good tactics, strategy, and planning, we target the final,” she added.

Aiding Dimzon in this quest are the twenty-three players she selected, who could turn her vision into a reality.

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Holdovers from the Olympic Qualifiers, the last major tournament the Pinays competed in including the international friendly more than a week ago versus Macau include captain Patrice Impelido and vice-captain Inna Palacios. They lead fellow veterans Camille Rodriguez, Hali Long, Sara Castañeda, Mea Bernal, Alesa Dolino, Irish Navaja, Alisha Del Campo with recent selections Chelo Hodges, Mary Harriette Lam, Tara Shelton, and Rocelle Mendaño. Kyla Inquig, Charisa Lemoran, and Hazel Lustan return after a quick absence, while Stacey Cavill, Calah Simarago, Claire Lim, and Quinley Quezada have been called up from overseas. New to the squad are fresh Ateneo de Manila University graduate Mariane Caparros, Far Eastern University rookie Dionesa Tolentin, and University of the Philippines senior Eloiza Fagsao.

“Itll be a challenge because when you see teams like Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar, they are always the favorites of the Southeast Asian teams. So hopefully we’ll be able to do better than them,” remarked Impelido, who thinks the tournament will help gauge every team’s current standing including the Philippines.

“A podium finish here should bring that same momentum into SEA Games,” the team’s most senior member added.

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