After 15 long years, the Philippines is set to return to Asia’s premier women’s football competition – the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
One player who will not be in the plane to Jordan, though, is De La Salle University Lady Archers midfielder Sara Castaneda.
Castaneda, who was awarded best midfielder in UAAP Seasons 78 and 79, shared with Tiebreaker Times her omission from the lineup that will compete in the competition that will also serve as the qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I’ll just wish them luck in the tournament. They took me out.
“Individually they are all pretty good. They all have the skills,” commented the soft-spoken Philippine international player who recently returned with her younger sister Anicka from the United States of America.
Without a doubt, there will be some eyebrows raised with Castaneda’s absence from the team. The De La Salle Zobel alumna played a key role in the qualifiers held at Tajikistan in April 2017 where she scored four goals, one of which was the leveler against Bahrain that sealed the Philippines’ return to the Asian Cup.
In fact, the Asian Football Confederation’s official website released a story that hyped up Castaneda in the upcoming competition.
“A 21-year-old midfielder, Castañeda played a crucial role in the Malditas’ qualification for Jordan 2018, scoring in four consecutive matches including the crucial late equalizer against Bahrain which finally ended the Southeast Asian nation’s 15-year AFC Women’s Asian Cup absence. Castañeda capped a superb 2017 by being crowned the PFF Women’s League’s Most Valuable Player.”
When reached for comment, Project Jordan technical manager Ernest Nierras has this to say about the situation, “Who scored the winning goal in the finals of the last FIFA world cup in Brazil? If you do not remember it was Mario Gotze. Will he be part of the German team in 2018? Shouldn’t he (be in the lineup) since he scored the winning goal that made Germany the 2014 World Cup champions?
“Do you think ‘murmurs of dissent’ will be heard if Gotze won’t be include on the 2018 roster? It is not a fair question and a precipitous assumption right? Players are selected, in our case, based on their commitment and performance during camps.
“The head coach (Richard Boon) established conditions as well as rules and regulations for camp participants. Some conditions were set by the head coach to help a player improve her performance, thus improving her chance to make the team. If a player cannot commit to such conditions then it will be undeserved to select her above the other who performed better and can comply,” added Nierras.
The turn of events may come as a surprise to those who follow the PWNT’s exploits. Nevertheless, Castaneda has already played her part for flag and country with her performance in the 2017 qualifiers. All eyes are now on Boon’s squad as they set out to bring the Philippines to the World Cup for the first time in history.