A Fresh Start: The Philippine Women’s Team to Play in the AFF Women’s Championship

A Fresh Start: The Philippine Women’s Team to Play in the AFF Women’s Championship

The Philippines Women’s national team are set to participate in the 2015 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam from May 1-10, 2015. The Philippines will face Malaysia, Myanmar, and hosts Vietnam in Group B.

The women’s squad will be headed by coach Letecia “Buda” Bautista, who replaced Ernie Nierras. The Philippine Football Federation only announced Bautista’s appointment in a press conference last week. Joining her will be Far Eastern University and Philippine U14 Girls coach Marnelli Dimzon and Patrice Impelido. The three were all part of the national team before moving to coaching.

This will officially be Bautista’s first tournament with the senior side, having previously coached the Girls Under-19 team in 2012. Bautista’s first foray with the national team was during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Bangladesh two years ago where she was an assistant coach.

Ahead of the tournament, the team held a tryout for the players after the UAAP season. Bautista called up a mix of both local and foreign-based talents for the tournament following the series of tryouts.

“Our aim is to hone the local players,” said Bautista. “(However) we still need the foreign-based players to strengthen our team, but in the long run I want to see more of the local players in the national team.”

Bautista is also aware that the tournament will serve as a “baptism of fire” for most of the players. The women’s team will first face Malaysia on May 2, followed by Myanmar on May 4. Their last group game will be on May 6 against hosts Vietnam. All games will be played at the Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh.

“We will be able to gauge where we are through this tournament,” said Bautista. “Technically and skill-wise the other teams are better because they have played more games (together).”

“We’re going for a win against Malaysia, a draw against Myanmar, and to control the game vs Vietnam,” added the coach.

Long time national team player Natasha Alquiros is excited heading to the tournament. The midfielder, who has been with the national team since 2007, admired her coach’s philosophy of developing the local based players.

“Coach is putting a different twist (to the squad) by fielding a more local side,” said Alquiros. “I hope this team stays together (not only for the AFF), but until the next few years.”

Alquiros had nothing but praises for the new head coach.

“She really did her homework and makes the most out of the players,” said Alquiros. “It’s nice because I saw how much mature she really is.”

Bautista hopes that the AFF championship will be the springboard the team needs. The coach targets at least a semi-final appearance in the tournament.

“We’re optimistic of getting a good result,” Bautista said. “We want to be in the semi-finals, but we’ll see, we’ll take it one game at a time.” — CAL

The Philippine Women’s Squad for the 2015 AFF Women’s Championship:

1. Pearl Aguilar
2. Natasha Alquiros
3. Analou Amita
4. Antonette Amoncio
5. Jennizel Cabalan
6. Sara CastaƱeda
7. Alesa Dolino
8. Joana Houplin
9. Hanna Maiya Ibarra
10. Jean Kadil
11. Rachelle Labajo
12. Raylene Larot
13. Marice Magdolot
14. Aisa Mondero
15. Marianne Narciso
16. Marie Elizabeth Navea-Huff
17. Mary Rose Obra
18. Inna Kristianne Palacios
19. Hanna Parado
20. Jesse Anne Shugg
21. Sharmaine Siaotong

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