MANILA, Philippines - Looking to draw momentum from the gains of the Azkals, the Philippine Malditas kick off their own campaign today against Myanmar in the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship in Vientiane, Laos.
The Malditas make their first international appearance after a two-year hiatus in the Group B duel with Myanmar at 4 p.m., determined to make inroads just like their male counterparts.
“We’ve not had many women football activities in the past two years, so this meet is important. We are looking at developing the women’s game in the long term,” said Phl coach Ernest Nierras.
Four Fil-foreigners have beefed up the Malditas - Fil-American Heather Cooke, a former Division 1 player at Loyola Maryland; US-based Patrice Impelido and Fil-Germans Cristina Keuter and Lorrene Bayani.
Keuter followed the Malditas to Vientiane yesterday after suspected dengue prevented her from flying in with the rest of the crew last Friday. Nierras said the Fil-German midfielder has been cleared to hook up with her teammates led by skipper Marielle Benitez and Sam Nierras for the campaign.
After Myanmar, the Filipinas will take on Thailand on Oct. 19, then Malaysia on Oct. 21, hoping to be in the Top 2 of Group B to make it to the crossover semis on Oct. 23. The finals and battle for third will be played on Oct. 25.
“If all things go according to plan, we aim to be there on Oct. 25,” Nierras said.