THE Philippine national women’s football team is ready to compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 Qualifiers, with the composition of the squad officially announced by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) this week.
Twenty-two players were called up for national team duty in the qualifiers. The country begins its campaign on Sept 18 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The Philippines, ranked 68th in the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Rankings, is in Group F, along with Nepal and Hong Kong, which are ranked 101st and 78th, respectively.
Named team captain of the Malditas, as the women’s team is collectively known, is goalkeeper Inna Palacios, with defender Hali Long serving as co-captain.
Also part of the team are goalkeepers Olivia Davies McDaniel and Isabelle Mapanao; defenders Ryley Bugay, Sofia Harrison, Chelo Hodges, Tara Shelton and Patricia Tomanon; and midfielders Tahnai Annis, Sara Castaneda, Anicka Castaneda, Malea Cesar, Charisa Lemoran, Rocelle Mendano, Jessica Miclat, Camille Rodrigue, Alyssa Ube and Camille Wilson.
Completing the squad are forwards Alisha Del Campo, Arianna Lepage and Chandler McDaniel.
The head coach is Marlon Maro and assisted by Michael Agbayani, Jose Maria Aberasturi, Marlon Pinero, Anthony Albao, and Rose Ton Barinan.
PFF Women’s Committee co-chairperson Jefferson Cheng is the team manager.
The Malditas play Nepal on Sept. 18 at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent then take on Hong Kong on Sept. 24.
In the lead-up, the PFF said the team conducted online training sessions early this year before going to camp in California from Aug. 4 to Sept. 11.
The team, which is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and MVP Sports Foundation, departed for Uzbekistan on Sunday.
Qualifying phase format has the top teams in each of the eight groupings advancing to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, joining defending champion Japan and other automatic qualifiers Australia (2018 runner-up), China (third place), and host India.
The quadrennial Asia AFC Women’s Asian Cup is set for Jan. 20-Feb. 6, 2022. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo