PH Womens The Philippines women’s football team in training in Irvine, California. PFF photo

PH to vie in AFC Women’s Asian Cup

January 11, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 76 views

THE Philippines has named its 23-strong squad as it vies for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup which starts next week in India.

Tied with Australia for the most number of overseas-based players with 17, the Philippines hopes to achieve glory in this month’s continental Finals.

Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada, who are plying their wares in Japan’s first-ever women’s professional football league (WE League), will banner the Philippines along with Women’s Asian Cup qualifier heroes Tahnai Annis and Chandler McDaniel, Eva Madarang, Jessica Miclat and Sofia Harrison.

Within sight of achieving the ultimate goal of making it to next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 64th-ranked Philippines will go up against 11th-ranked Australia, No. 38 Thailand and No. 94 Indonesia in Group B which starts on January 21 in Mumbai and Pune.

The top two teams from each group, along with the two best third placed teams, will qualify to the knockout stages.

The Philippines aims to become the top five teams, excluding Australia, to claim the continent’s five direct slots to the Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July next year.

Homegrown talents like goalkeeper-captain Inna Palacios, Cam Rodriguez, Hali Long, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Castañeda and Tara Shelton are also in the roster.

“I’ve got a lot of hope and a lot of belief that we can actually achieve the goal,” said coach Alen Stajcic, who was appointed last October.

“The players are all aligned and driven to succeed as one and that’s what we have to do to give ourselves every possible chance of getting one of those spots for the World Cup.”

The team is now wrapping up its training camp in Irvine, California, where the Philippines been training since early November in preparation for its campaign in the continent’s biggest women’s football competition.

“The squad we have right now has been really great. It’s nice to have a little bit of consistency from our last campaign being so close, and now we kind of have a core group, and we’ve been able to bring in players kind of from all over,” Annis said in a recent press conference.

Katrina Guillou, who plays for Swedish side Pitea IF, is among the newcomers to the squad along with Dominque Randle, Isabella Flanigan, Kiara Fontanilla and former youth players Keanne Alamo and Carleigh Frilles.

After playing Thailand on Jan. 21, the Philippines will go up against Australia on Jan. 24 and Indonesia on Jan. 27.