By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines hopes to sustain the momentum from its recent success in the age group competitions as it braces for a tough group in the upcoming qualifying tournament for the 2015 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Women’s Championship.
Phl, fresh from a historic silver medal in last week’s AFC Girls U-14 championship for the Asean region, has drawn Chinese Taipei, Myanmar and Cambodia in Group D of the qualifiers to be held September-October in a yet to be decided venue.
The Taiwanese played in the final round of the AFC U-16 women’s tilt last year and just fell short of a stint in the Last-4. Myanmar, for its part, faced off with the Pinay booters in the 2013 previous qualifiers at Rizal Memorial and prevailed, 2-1.
The official draw was held recently at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur with Phl and 20 other nations set to vie for four berths to the 2015 finals. Defending champion Japan and the next three teams in the final standing of the 2013 edition, runner-up North Korea, third placer China and No. 4 Thailand, had been given outright qualification slots.
Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan make up Group A while Bangladesh, Iran, Jordan, India, UAE, and Qatar comprise Group B of the West Zone.
Australia, Korea Republic, Hong Kong, Northern Mariana Islands and Vietnam vie in Group C, the other bracket in the East Zone.
According to the AFC, each group will play a one-round league in a centralized venue with the winners from each group advancing to the eight-nation finals.
Meanwhile, idle Phl women’s team Malditas rose by one place to 78th in the quarterly world rankings released by the International Football Federation Friday night.
The Malditas, who haven’t seen action since the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, are ranked 16th overall in Asia and fifth among Asean nations behind Thailand (29th), Vietnam (33rd), Myanmar (46th) and Indonesia (70th).