i guess it’s high time i do a profile of my local team 😉
The Philippine National Women’s Team will be playing a major tournament in a few days and will be hoping for its best success in years. According to the coach Ernie Nierras, the team will field what could be its best lineup in years for the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship.
The Malditas (which essentially means “feisty” and “tenacious”) will start their campaign for in this year’s AFF championship on Thursday against last year’s finalist Myanmar. They will face 2010 champion and host Vietnam on Friday and Singapore on September 17 in their Group A matches. They need to finish in the top two of the group to move on to the crossover semifinals, where they will meet the best two teams from Group B that features defending champion Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia.
In the past four editions of the tournament, the Malditas failed to advance past the group stages of the competition, however, Coach Nierras is very optimistic. “The team that I have now, this is the strongest I’ve ever seen in the women’s national team,” Nierras said. “We want to make it to the finals, if we don’t make it to the finals, we will be disappointed.”
Nierras is banking on 5′ 9″ Heather Cooke to power the team into the finals. The Filipino-American striker converted from a central defender, is said to give the team the edge it has been looking for. Cooke, who joined the team last year after playing varsity football at US NCAA school Loyola University Maryland, sees no problem playing her new position. “It actually wasn’t that hard because I played offense when growing up,” said Cooke, whose mother traces her roots to Iloilo. “I’m hungry for the ball. It’s fun. I like it.”
Nierras believes that this year’s lineup is the most formidable the country has ever had. “The team that I have now, this is the strongest I’ve ever seen in the women’s national team,” he said.
The Malditas will be led by team captain Marielle Benitez, a many-time UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Most Valuable Player from La Salle. The team also boasts a number of Filipinos with mixed heritage (born and raised overseas but with a Filipino parent) or foreign background (born in the Philippines with Filipino parents but raised or moved abroad) apart from Cooke such as Fil-Americans Ashley O’Connor, Abby Komarc, Angeline and Patrice Impelido, Fil-Australian Nenita Burgess and Fil-Canadian Mallory Dayot.
The team will also be bolstered by players from the UAAP schools, such as Louella Amamio, Jowee-Ann Barruga, Aisa Mondero and Marice Magdolot from University of Santo Tomas; Inna Palacios, Samantha Nierras and Natasha Alquiros from La Salle; Isabella Fernando and Kathleen Rodriguez from Ateneo; Etang Ladero and Vanessa Mondero from Far Eastern University; and Cristina Delos Reyes from University of the Philippines.
Nierras added that he is confident about their chances this year as they had better preparation this year. “We’ve been training for eight months. Unlike last year na medyo hirap tayo (TRANS: when it was a bit tough), we are able to address all the needs this time,” Nierras said. “This is the only time that we played 30 games to prepare (for the tournament).”
** UPDATE **
2012 AFF Womens Championships Results:
vs Myanmar: 0-3
vs Vietnam 2-4
vs Singapore 7-2