MANILA, Phiippines – It may be an uphill climb, but the Philippine women’s football team remains positive that it can secure a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Malditas got drawn in Group C in the second round of the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Qatar this April. (READ: PH women’s football set for Olympic qualifiers debut)
The Philippines – currently ranked No.74 in the FIFA World Rankings – will first go up against Iran (No. 60) on April 3. The Malditas will then play group favorite Chinese Taipei (No. 40) on April 6 and Palestine (No. 106) on April 9.
Only the top performing team in each group will advance to the third round of the Olympic qualifiers.
National team head coach Marnelli Dimzon thinks they have a legitimate shot at getting a decent result against Iran and Palestine if they can study their opponents’ style very thoroughly.
“Kasi now, we have their videos of the games from their last year’s qualifiers so yung system that they are playing now, ni-rurun namin siya ngayon sa practices. Kung maayos lang namin siya and then ma-popolish namin yung defending and attacking namin, I think we have a good chance.”
(We have their videos from the qualifiers and we’re simulating their system in our practices. If we can find a solution to that, and polish our defending and attacking tactics, I think we have a good chance.)
Dimzon said their chances of getting to the next round rests on how well they perform against Chinese Taipei – the very same team that overpowered them in the first round with a five-goal to none beating.
“Yung pinaka-big challenge kasi namin is playing against Chinese Taipei, so if ever na maging successful kami playing against Taipei, siguro pwede. Kaya nating pumasok sa third round.”
(Our biggest challenge is Chinese Taipei, so if we play well against them, I think we can qualify for the third round.)
Vice-captain Inna Palacios said the Malditas will target a sweep.
“To be sure, we want to win all games, but if it’s too hard, two [wins] and a draw would be good and some goal difference,” she said.
The former La Salle standout then added: “It’s tricky, very tricky in women’s football, goal difference plays a lot, like a big role.”
Dimzon said the Malditas will have a new-look roster in the second round of the qualifiers.
“Yung ibang players busy with the UAAP so ‘di sila makapunta dito. We still have the core ng team. Intact pa rin,” she said.
(The other players are busy with the UAAP, but the core of the team remains intact.)
The training pool: Palacios, Cavill, Simarago, Pachejo, Long, Amita, Rodriguez, Dolino, Navaja, Semacio, Mendano, Castañeda, Tomanon, Bernal, Bautista, Shelton, Madarang, Pariña, Impelido, Del Campo, Hodges, Montelibano, Ladero, Lam, Belluga, Lucera, and Isulat. – Juro Morilla/Rappler.com