PHILIPPINE women’s football takes the spotlight anew as the national Under-16 girls squad vies for honors in the Asian Football Confederation U-16 women’s championship qualifiers next week in Melaka, Malaysia.
Made up mostly of standouts from the squad that notched a historic runner-up finish in the AFC U-14 regional championships last June in Vietnam, the Teen Malditas try to clinch a berth in the continent’s showpiece event next year.
U-14 regional tournament MVP and pride of Davao Joyce Semacio banners the 23-woman squad, which also features Joanah Adao, Bianca Almeda, Joannah Almeda, Itsuko Bacatan, Jennifer Baroin, Icee Calimbo, Riza Carmona, Alexa Ceniza, Kaitlyn Dabalos, Angela de Luna, Cecile Deita, Yasmin Elauria, Patricia Francsico, and Tejanee Isulat.
Jan Jumawan, Mikhaela Jumawan, Natasha Lacson, Khryztel Muring, Tenelyn Otom, Arantxa Trebol, Annika Velez, and Lindsay Whaley complete the 23-member squad.
The national team is bracketed with Myanmar, Chinese Taipei, and Cambodia in Group D, where only one slot in the main competition is up for grabs.
“Hopefully maglaro ang mga bata ng may puso tsaka lahat ng tinuro namin sa kanila i-apply lang nila,” Teen Malditas coach Joyce Landagan said on Thursday during the team’s sendoff at the Philippine Football Federation office.
Composed of talents from Davao, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, San Carlos, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Olongapo and Manila, the lineup was finalized just last month and had a two-week local training camp.
“Kulang ang preparation, pero it’s not a reason para hindi sila mag-perform,” said Landagan, a former national footballer and University of Santo Tomas varsity player. “Yung trust ko sa team na ito napakataas.”
The team, which leaves for Malaysia on Friday afternoon, defeated Myanmar in the U-14 tourney and has beaten Cambodia several times.
“The team has a very good chance,” PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes said. “This is a complete team with a good offensive and very good defensive capability.”