By Kevin Estrada
MANILA -- For Belay Fernando and Natasha Alquiros, the time to make Filipina football history is now.
This is what two of the leading ladies of the game said about the draw made on the AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifiers.
Both ladies were in Rizal Memorial Stadium last Tuesday for the AFC Champions League playoff which was won by Global over S-League's Tampines Rovers, in which they shared their views on the women's national team's good luck of the draw when they were grouped by tournament hosts Jordan, qualifying hosts Tajikistan, Iraq and United Arab Emirates in Group A when they kick off the qualifiers on April 3.
But for the Loyola team manager, who also plays in the backline for Green Archers United, echoed her club teammate Marielle Benitez and other player's buzzing excitement when they see that they ranked higher than them but she admitted that there are some concerns with regards to the build-up to their next match, especially after not playing a single match in 2016.
"I think it's very exciting. It's really exciting when you see the opponent and you ranked higher and you feel like you have a good chance. But of course there is a lot of hard work that gets in. The schedule's really tricky because it's the same time as the UAAP, and I'm not sure if there's enough time to assess the overseas-based players to come in again so it's gonna be a tough time for the head coach," Fernando said during half time of Global's win over the Stags.
The Hiraya winger agreed to Fernando's sentiments and as a veteran of several international tournaments back when they were callled the Malditas, it all boiled down to the cooperation between the PFF and the UAAP, since the qualifiers will be played in the middle of the UAAP season and will also hit the holy week.
"I feel that it's always the time to make history for women's football especially because in terms of rankings we have a very good chance. But again it will all depend on the preparation, because it is the key. We were lucky enough to get the draw but we can't just be lucky and do everything at the last minute," said the strong-worded Alquiros who was the public address announcer that night.