Amid the absence of few key players, the Philippine national women’s football team, widely known as Malditas, has still assembled the best team that could end women’s football medal drought in SEA Games.
The official Malditas’ line-up for the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar this month was released last Saturday, showing a great mixed composition of homegrown talents and US NCAA standouts, all of them are either players who took part in the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup Qualifiers in May and the SEA Football Federation Championship last September.
Strikers Joana Houplin, Christine Delos Reyes and Jesse Shugg are tapped to score goals for the country, while first-choice goalkeeper Maria dela Cruz and Patricia Dull will keep the opposing team from scoring goals.
To set goal opportunities and facilitate the offense in the midfield are Sam Nierras, Marisa Park, Monika Lee, Rachel Nichols, Raylene Larot, Megan Jurado, Natasha Alquiros, Chalise Baysa and Aisa Mondero.
Defenders Patrice Impelido, Cat Barnekow, Sarah Cook, Morgan Brown, Katherine Lim and Alexa Diaz complete the 20-woman roster.
Philippine women’s football team coach, Ernie Nierras said that this line-up is still the best team assembled even though skipper Marielle Benitez and scoring machine Heather Cooke are not part of the team due to injuries.
Nierras expects her girls to step up their game and make it to the medal round.
Since women’s football was introduced in SEA Games in 1985, Philippine women’s team only managed to win a medal in 1985 where the team finished third (bronze medal) among three competing countries.
The team came close to winning a medal in 1995 and 2005 where they finished 4th.
Women’s football was not played in the 2011 edition of SEA Games, while Philippines did not send a women’s football team in the 2009 edition in Laos. The last time Philippines was represented in the women’s football was in 2007 SEA Games in Thailand where Philippines placed 5th among six competing countries.
After not being able to see action in the last two SEA Games, the Philippine women’s national football team is all pumped up to finally put Philippines in the SEA women’s football map.
Expect the Malditas to battle and bleed for the country to win a medal in 2013 SEA Games women’s football.
Photo Credit : Chris Cordero @ www.pinoyfootball.com