A mix of US NCAA standouts and homegrown stalwarts make up the composition of the Philippine women’s football team bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
The official lineup for the biennial competition was released Saturday and a quick look at it would reveal the team is reinforced by players who took part in the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup Qualifiers in May and the Asean Football Federation Championship last September.
Majority of the players are from the side that barely missed a spot in the AFC Asian Cup after a bridesmaid finish in the group stage in Bangladesh.
Despite a few key players out due to either injuries or personal matters, Malditas coach Ernie Nierras remains confident of the team’s chances to bag a medal in the SEA Games’ showpiece event, where they are bracketed in Group B with the host team, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
“This is still the best team (assembled),” Malditas coach Ernie Nierras said in a phone conversation on Saturday.
With skipper Marielle Benitez (ACL), Heather Cooke (achilles), and Camille Wilson unavailable, Nierras expects the rest of the players to step up for them to reach the crossover semifinals, at least.
Joana Houplin (Western Washington) and Jesse Shugg (Miami) are counted on to score the goals, while defenders Catherine Barnekow (North Carolina), Sarah Cook (UC Bakersfield), and new-girl Alexa Diaz (Seattle Pacific) will anchor the backline, along with first-choice goalkeeper Maria dela Cruz (Idaho State).
Natasha Alquiros (La Salle), Marisa Park (Wake Forest), and Sam Nierras (La Salle) are expected to facilitate the offense in the midfield.
Defenders Morgan Brown (Santa Clara), Katherine Lim (Boston), and Patrice Impelido (Western Michigan); midfielders Monika Lee (Loyola), Rachel Nichols (Cornell), Raylene Larot (Sacramento State), Megan Jurado (San Diego State), Chalise Baysa (Oregon), Aisa Mondero (University of Santo Tomas); forward Christina Delos Reyes (University of the Philippines); and keeper Patricia Dull (Temple City) complete the 20-woman roster.
– regulars Benitez, Cooke, Inna Palacios (#1 GK) are out because of injuries
– only Impelido, Delos Reyes, Alquiros, Mondero, Nierras are the locally based players
– Dull is the only high school student in the squad
– only the women’s team get to represent the Philippines at the SEA Games after a national committee barred the men’s football team
Maria Dela Cruz
Samantha Nierras (C)
Christina de los Reyes