The Philippine Malditas made history in qualifying for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup for the first time since 2003. The burning question is the Philippines will make a history in qualifying for Women’s World Cup for the first time?
Before flying to Jordan for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the team and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) held a send-off and they had high hopes in their upcoming stint in the tournament.
“The coach (Rabah Benlarbi) has told me that the team is well prepared and that we can do some surprises in Jordan,” said PFF President Mariano ”Nonong ” Araneta quoted by Tiebreaker Times.
“As you know, they qualified last year in Tajikistan. Of course, you know our Men’s team qualified last night. We have now two Asian Cup teams, the Women’s team, and the Men’s team but always the women are ahead. We salute you for that,” PFF Secretary-General Attorney Ed Gastanes added in the same reports as he highlighted the first-ever qualification of Philippine Azkals in the AFC Asian Cup and the achievement the Malditas.
New Malditas head coach Rabah Benlarbi also had high hopes for the team saying ” I hope that the girls will understand the challenge. I think nobody is waiting for us. Jordan, Thailand, and China don’t think about the Philippines. We must be motivated, concentrate. I hope we will qualify for the World Cup… and we will make a new story for Philippine football.”
Also joining them on their trip in Jordan is De La Salle University’s Sara Castaneda, who previously out in the lineup.
The Philippines opened their AFC Women’s Asian Cup in the high note in defeating the host country Jordan 2-1 last April 7th. Sara Bolden produced a goal for the Filipinas at the 76th minute while Jordanian defender Yasmeen Khair accidentally nailed a goal on the Malditas side that resulted in a point for the Filipina in the 51st minute.
Maysa Jbarah registered Jordan’s only goal in the match in the 15th minute.
“I’m so proud of the girls (tonight). We didn’t like them scoring first, took the air from our sails but we came out harder. We wanted it more than them and that showed (with the result),” said Malditas co-captain Tahnia Annis via PFF website. “We played it really smart and it paid off.”
Benlarbi also delighted on the result of the game.” I am of course delighted as it is always good to win your opening game at any competition,” said Benlarbi quoted in PFF website.“We prepared a plan of how to play against Jordan, but at the start of the game we made some mistakes and that allowed Jordan some opportunities to score which they did.”
”Despite conceding, I think we were a better side than Jordan (in the first half). I am very proud of the girls,” Benlarbi added.
Meanwhile, Bolden is happy since it’s her first international goal ” It’s really, really exciting,” shared Bolden via PFF website. “It means so much to me and I’m so glad that I’m able to be a part of something like this.”
But the celebration of the team came to an end as they faced China since the Chinese blanked their Filipina counterparts with a score of 3-0 last April 12th with Li Ying who fired two goals in 17th and 57th minute and Ma Jun contributed her own goal in the 31st minute.
“It is probably fair to say that China was a better team than us, but there are some positives we can take from the game,” said Benlarbi on their loss via Inquire.net. “As much as we tried to react in the second half, we continued to press China until the very last-minute.”
After the loss to China, the Women’s World Cup aspiration of the Malditas is now on the line.
But luck was still not on the side for the Malditas on their Women’s World Cup aspiration as they dropped their last two games.
The Malditas absorbed a 3-1 loss against Thailand with Karjana Sung-Ngeon nailed two goals in 28th and 53rd minute while Silawan Intamee chipped in her own goal in the 62nd minute.
Jesse Shugg pulled the back of the net for the Malditas in the dying minutes of the match.
The Malditas finished in third place with three points in their Group A assignments. China (1st place) and Thailand (2nd place) on the other hand topped the group with nine and six points respectively which earned them a Women’s World Cup berth.
Jordan ended at the bottom with zero points.
In the knockout round, the Malditas face South Korea for the final ticket for the Women’s World Cup and recognition as the fifth finisher of the tournament. Still, the Malditas fell against the Koreans with a score of 5-0.
South Korea joined China, Thailand, Australia and champion Japan in representing the AFC in 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Despite the disappointing finish, the PFF still commended the performance of the Malditas.
“We had hoped for a Miracle in Jordan, but having played against the best teams in Asia is already a great honor and a memorable experience for the Philippine Women’s National Team,” said PFF president Mariano ”Nonong” Araneta via PFF website. “We thank the team for inspiring the whole country and we hope that someday we can join the best teams in Asia playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
PFF Secretary-General Attorney Ed Gastanes, who accompanied the team in Jordan also hailed the performance of the Malditas.
“The team tried their best and played hard against the top Asian teams,” shared Gastanes through the PFF website. “They fell short, but we thank them for their spirited efforts and gallant stand for the flag and country. We are proud of this team.”