The Philippine Women’s National Football Team or the Malditas, once again have a new head coach.
In the announcement posted in the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) website, they announced that Rabah Benlarbi is the new head coach of the Malditas which is on the cusp of preparation for the upcoming AFC Women’s Football Cup, taking place in April at Jordan.
“The road to qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 begins with the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta via PFF website. “With Coach Rabah’s guidance and leadership, we hope that the Philippine Women’s National Team clinch a place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.”
Benlarbi will have Joyce Landangan and Steven Joseph Hoffman as assistant coaches while Anthony Albao as goalkeeper coach.
Benlarbi will replace Richard Boon, who was hired last November 2017 to prepare the Malditas for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the one who supervised the Malditas’ overseas training in Corona, California, USA earlier this year.
It’s unclear as of now on why Boon left the team.
The Malditas have been on the coaching carousel in recent months, during the Southeast Asian(SEA) Games in Malaysia. FEU Lady Tamaraw’s head coach Let Dimzon called the shots while Leticia ” Budda” Bautista guided the Malditas during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying tournament in which the Philippines is making their first trip since 2003.
Benlarbi, a French citizen, previously served as assistant coach for Chinese Taipei Women’s National team from 2015-2016. He also served as head coach of Myanmar’s U-17 and U-18 teams in late 2016 until September 2017.
The Malditas are currently having their Philippine-based training at the PFF National Training Pitch at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.
After the Philippine-based training, the Malditas will leave for Japan for a one-week training on March 20th before returning in the country and then travel to Jordan for AFC Women’s World Cup which will begin on April 6th.
The Philippines is in Group A together with host Jordan, China, and Thailand. The top five finishers in the tournament will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup which will take place in France.
Some notable members of the homegrown talents training pool are Patrice Impelido, Inna Palacios, Camille Rodriguez, Alesa Dai Dolino, Mea Bernal and Anicka Castañeda.
Meanwhile, the notable overseas-based talents are Eva Madarang, Hali Long, Hanna Parado and Claire Lim.
Kyla Inquiq and Sara Castaneda are sitting out at AFC Women’s Football Cup
The preparation of the Malditas for the AFC Women’s Football Cup hit some snag after some members of the pool decided to skip the tournament. One of them is Kyla Inquig of De La Salle University due to academics. It’s also worth noting that AFC Women’s World Cup also collides with the ongoing UAAP Women’s Football season.
Meanwhile another La Salle student-athlete Sara Castaneda will also not be joining the Malditas campaign in the AFC Women’s Football Cup.
“I’ll just wish them luck in the tournament. They took me out,” Castaneda told Tiebreaker Times last February 23.
Castaneda played a vital role in Malditas conquest in clinching a spot in the AFC Women’s Football Cup in scoring four goals in Malditas’ in the qualifiers held in Tajikistan in April 2017.
Asked about comments on Castaneda’s remarks, Project Jordan technical head Ernest Nierras said in the same report ” Who scored the winning goal in the finals of the last FIFA world cup in Brazil? If you do not remember it was Mario Gotze. Will he be part of the German team in 2018? Shouldn’t he (be in the line-up) since he scored the winning goal that made Germany the 2014 World Cup champions?”
Nierras also noted that former Malditas head coach Richard Boon established the rules and regulations of camp participants.
”The head coach (Richard Boon) established conditions as well as rules and regulations for camp participants. Some conditions were set by the head coach to help a player improve her performance, thus improving her chance to make the team. If a player cannot commit to such conditions then it will be undeserved to select her above the other who performed better and can comply.”