By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Malditas battle Indonesia as they launch their bid in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship today at the Youth Training Centre in Yango, Myanmar.
Despite a lineup of mostly young guns, the Malditas are confident they can go toe-to-toe with their more experienced rivals in the regional bootfest that for the first time, will have the U23 team of powerhouse Japan, the U-19 side of new AFF member Australia, and West Asia champs Jordan.
The Malditas are bracketed in Group B with Indonesia, Japan U-23, Laos and host Myanmar.
“Even with the youngest team in the AFF, we will not use that as an excuse. We will play the best football we know how to play. No holding back. No Fear.....BATTLE AND BLEED to the very end!” Malditas coach Ernie Nierras said.
Nierras felt slighted when the Malditas were “snubbed” in the pre-tournament pressconference but said they will take this as further motivation to prove their worth.
“They only invited the top six teams to the press conference. We were not one of them. Japan U23 is the current U23 Women’s League Champions of Japan. Jordan is not even part of AFF, but it was the Philippines that was excluded,” he said.
“People never learn. I love it when people disrespect the Malditas. It just motivates us. The last time that happened was when Iran and Bangladesh said they will beat us, and Thailand said if they do not win by 5 goals they will be disappointed (in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers where the Malditas eventually beat Iran and lost by 0-1 to the Thais). Well we are here to disappoint all our opponents,” he added.