The Philippine Women’s National Football Team return to action today for this year’s AFF Women’s Championship.
The ladies ranked 73rd in the world are looking to bounce back from their Women’s Asian Cup stint – in which they failed to qualify for the Women’s World Cup – with a decent showing at the two-week long tournament in Palembang, Indonesia.
Situated in Group B alongside the hosts Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Singapore, the Pinays have a tough nut to crack for their first match later at 4:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. Philippine Standard Time) in the form of the hardy Burmese, ranked 44th.
Two days later they face 101-ranked Singapore at 7:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. Philippine Standard Time), then 37-ranked Vietnam on July 7 at 7:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. Philippine Standard Time). Finally, they take on 77-ranked Indonesia on July 9 at 4:00 p.m. local time (5:00 p.m. Philippine Standard Time) to close out the preliminary round.
Should the team finish top two in the group, they will move on to the knockout stages.
“We wish them the best of luck,” said PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes, who lauds the ladies for making history as they came close to qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. “The hoped-for success that this team will achieve in this tournament should continue to inspire women’s football players in the country. Our hopes and prayers are with them as they compete for regional supremacy in Southeast Asia.”
In order to reach this objective, the MVP Sports Foundation has extended its support to the Philippine Football Federation for this tournament, as it has since the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan. The former is a privately-funded sports development foundation of the MVP Group of Companies that supports sports programs through funding and provides technical feedback on how to improve current sporting practices.
The PFF is grateful for their valuable assistance through football program director Vincent Santos.
“Women’s football in the country is growing and many, including football stakeholders appreciate this kind of support,” added Gastanes.
Eighteen players have been called up for the Southeast Asian meet led by team captain Patrice Impelido, goalkeeper Inna Palacios, and midfielder Camille Rodriguez. Impelido, Palacios and Rodriguez – together with goalkeeper Stacey Cavill, defenders Alesa Dolino and Hali Long, and forward Quinley Quezada – are holdovers from the Women’s Asian Cup squad that represented the Philippines in Jordan last April.
Bolstering the team are UAAP Season 80 title contenders Kyla Inquig (midfielder and most valuable player) and Irish Navaja (midfielder) of champions De La Salle University, with Charisa Lemoran (midfielder) and Nicole Reyes (goalkeeper) of runners-up University of Santo. Tomas.
Included are returning U.S.-based members Pat Tomanon (defender), Hanna Malone Parado (midfielder), Eva Madarang (forward), with a new recruit in Sofia Harrison (defender) who hails from Columbia, Maryland. Anicka Castañeda (midfielder) and Alisha Del Campo (forward) also make their return.
Rounding up the team is Davao-based 18-year-old midfielder Joyce Semacio, the youngest member on the team. Semacio last made waves for the Philippines at the AFC U-14 Girls Championship where her team won silver and she was awarded the tournament’s most valuable player.
Buda Bautista who last served the team on the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers in Tajikistan has also returned as head coach.
“I believe that whether we do well or otherwise would depend on the commitment of the girls. They must want to do well,” shared Bautista.
Her staff consists of assistant coaches Let Dimzon and Josephine Loren, goalkeeping coach Melo Sabacan, with team manager Jefferson Cheng and PFF Women’s Committee chairperson Lalaine Sarmiento serving as the head of delegation.