BRACKETED in tough Group B, the Philippines hopes to make an impact in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup which will kick off on Friday in India.
With the continent’s biggest football competition fast approaching, the Philippines is determined to play its A-game against former champions Australia and Thailand, and regional rival Indonesia.
It promises to be an exciting group, as the top two teams from each bracket, 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 Fifa Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July next year.
Handled by Australian coach Alen Stajcic, the Philippines arrived in India last Friday after a productive two-month camp in Irvine, California.
“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,” captain Tahnai Annis said in a recent press conference.
Scoring two goals during the qualifiers, Annis will banner the Philippines’ campaign, not only to improve its sixth place finish in 2018 but also to achieve the ultimate goal of reaching the World Cup for the first time ever.
Aside from Annis, the team’s other midfielders are Japan pro league campaigner Quinley Quezada, Malea Louise Cesar, Cam Rodriguez, Jessica Miclat, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Castañeda and Keanne Alamo.
Chandler McDaniel, who contributed a goal in the Philippines’ succesful run in the qualifiers, will lead the forwards along with Carleigh Frilles, Sarina Bolden and Eva Madarang.
Hali Long will be the Philippines’ defenders along with Dominique Randle, Tara Shelton, Kristen Ryley Bugay, Morgan Brown, Isabella Flanigan, Sofia Harrison and Katrina Guillou.
Manning the post are Inna Palacios, Kiara Fontanilla and Olivia McDaniel.
The Philippines, which is ranked No. 13 in Asia and 64th in the world, appreared in the Asian Cup nine times.
After playing Thailand on Friday, the Philippines will go up against Australia on Jan. 24 and Indonesia on Jan. 27.