Tag Archives: Philippine Women’s National Team

A Journey for the Ages: The Filipinas’ AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualification

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The Philippine Women’s National Team were down by a single goal against Bahrain heading into the final ten minutes. The Filipinas had been having an imposing run in tournament, drubbing all their opponents so far.

Each match had its heroines: Eva Madarang scored the first goal in the first three games. First timers Irish Navaja and Mary Cristine Duran scored a goal each in their national team debuts. In the match against Iraq, the Filipinas scored all four goals in the first half. 17-year-old Anicka Castañeda scored twice against Tajikistan. Hali Long netted a hat-trick of headers against the same opposition en route to an 8-0 win.

But in the match versus Bahrain, midfielder SaraCastañeda shone the brightest. The De La Salle midfielder scored the deciding goal in the 82nd minute to send the Philippines back to the AFC Women’s Cup for the first time since 2003, and with a game to spare.

Castañeda was still over the moon when asked about the goal and the game. It was the midfielder’s fourth goal of the qualifiers having scored in every single game.

“I’m very grateful! I am still speechless that we actually made it to the next round,” said the soft spoken Castañeda. “Hopefully we will be able to prepare so we can do well for Jordan.”

Both captain Patrice Impelido and goalkeeper Inna Palacios hailed Castaneda and the whole team’s effort to put the Filipinas back in the game after Bahrain took the lead in the 55th minute from Noora Al-Dossary.

“Even though Bahrain were able to score first we never gave up,” Impelido said. “We kept fighting. We kept our composure and worked as a team, and that’s how Sara was able to score that equalizer.”

“That goal happened way too fast. We were trying to organize the defensive line and then Bahrain did a quick play. We weren’t able to react fast enough,” recalled Palacios. “I’m not surprised that Sara was able to score. She has a great eye and good anticipation of the game. (She was) just in the right place at the right time and we badly needed that equalizer so we all celebrated when she scored.”

The qualification to the Women’s Asian Cup also extinguished the ghosts of 2013. Previously, the Philippines failed to qualify for the tournament proper after a 1-0 loss to Thailand. Both Impelido and Palacios were part of that squad.

Impelido thought of the qualification to the final round as “a roller-coaster ride of emotions.”

“I was talking with Inna (Palacios) before the game and saying that ‘we’re almost there.’ One more game. Only 90 minutes,” said Impelido. “When that final whistle blew, we did it! We’re going to Jordan! We hugged and cried tears of joy.”

Palacios, on the other hand, felt that the qualification was the fruit of the sacrifices she and the team had to make in order to reach the Asian Cup.

“This journey is probably the hardest so far because of all our other commitments like UAAP, school, injuries, plus we didn’t have enough time for preparation, which makes it special, and difficult. All the effort, time, double trainings, sleepless nights for school, just all the sacrifices we made were worth it,” explained Palacios. “The feeling of being able to do something you thought you couldn’t do is just so rewarding. I can’t find the right words to describe how I feel. I just know that I’m beyond blessed and thankful for this team and everyone behind us, who’s been with us through thick and thin.”

PFF Women’s Committee Chairperson and team manager Lalaine Sarmiento echoed the players’ words.

“We had to either win or draw to a point that we were praying, cheering and motivating the players on the field,” Sarmiento said. “It’s hard to explain the exact feeling but its a feeling of excitement, fulfillment, and that we still need to be focused and composed.”

With the participants for next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup already set, Sarmiento is aware that the team should start preparing ahead of time. The Philippines will be up against tournament hosts Jordan, and Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam in the Asian Cup.

“The PFF and the Women’s department will prepare for the journey towards the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018,” added Sarmiento.

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup serves as the qualifiers for the FIFA Women’s World Cup which will be held in France in 2019. The top five teams at the end of the Women’s Asian Cup will qualify for the Women’s World Cup.

In light of the Filipinas’ success, PFF General Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes has already pinned his hopes that the Women’s Team will be allowed to compete in the upcoming South East Asian Games. The SEA Games will be held in Malaysia this coming August and the Filipinas would make the tournament part of their preparation for the Women’s Asian Cup.

“It’s a young and fearless team,” said Gastanes on the Filipinas. “The PFF hopes that the POC-PSC SEA Games 2017 Task Force approve our earlier request to send a women’s football team to the SEA Games this August 2017. Our current women’s football campaign deserves no less.”

What a journey the Filipinas have been on so far, and what a journey it’s going to be yet. — CAL

Filipinas Qualify for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup

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The Philippine Women’s National Team earned their rightful place in next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup after a heart-stopping 1-1 draw against Bahrain last night at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Sara Castaneda was the heroine for the Filipinas. The midfielder struck gold in the 82nd minute to send the Philippines back into the Women’s Asian Cup. It will be the Filipinas’ first appearance in the tournament proper since 2003.

“It was a crazy match. It was like playing for the title. I am speechless,” said head coach Letecia Bautista. “At half-time I said to my players that they needed to find some composure. Bahrain also really wanted the slot and we just had to remember how we played in the last three games.”

The Filipinas remained in second place, behind Jordan, with ten points, but since Jordan are already through as tournament host, the Philippines go through to the next stage.

Going into the match, the Philippines only needed a draw against Bahrain to qualify. However, Bahrain proved to be a worthy opponent, suppressing the Philippines’ attacking threat for most of the match.

Two chances from Bahrain in the 27th and 34th minutes almost proved to be costly, but the Philippine defense held. The Philippines came close late in the first half with chances from Hanna Parado and top scorer Eva Madarang going to waste the half ended scoreless.

Bahrain pressed on early in the second half and were rewarded in the 55th minute. Noora Al-Dossary was through on goal and lofted the ball over a rushing Inna Palacios to put her side ahead.

Despite being a goal down early in the second half, however, the Philippines found the resolve to carry on in the hope of finding the equalizer.

Madarang should have drawn level at the hour-mark but the flag was up and her goal was nullified. The chance to equalize seemed to have passed as Bahrain began to waste the clock as the match went on to the dying minutes.

But the Philippines did not let up and finally got the break they needed in the 82nd minute. Patricia Tomanon sent a long ball into the path of Madarang. The forward flicked it to an open space where Castaneda came rushing in and scored the historic goal that sent the Philippines through to Jordan.

Defender Claire Lim almost sealed the three points for the Philippines late on, but her shot from outside ricocheted off the post.

The job is not yet done for the Philippines. The Filipinas take on leaders Jordan on Wednesday, April 12, at 1:00 PM local time (4:00 PM Manila time). — CAL

Filipinas Chase History in AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers

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The road to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup begins as the Philippine Women’s National Team head to Tajikistan to participate in the Qualifiers which kicks off tonight, April 3.

The Filipinas are in Group A with Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates. The top team at the end of the Qualifiers will go through to the final round which will be held in Jordan in 2018. However, in the event that Jordan tops the group, the second placed team will advance to the next round because Jordan are hosts of the final round.

19 players were called up to represent the country in the Qualifiers. The players are a mix of UAAP and foreign-based players. Leticia Bautista is the head coach while PFF Women’s Committee head Lalaine Sarmiento is the team manager.

The selection of players did not come easy. The national pool consisted of primarily college players, who are also playing in the UAAP. In a remarkable move, the UAAP decided to go on a break to make way for the Qualifiers. Despite the break, several players from the pool begged off from the squad because of academics.

Defender Patrice Impelido did not dwell on the obstacles the team faced during the run-up to the Qualifiers, and is confident that the Philippines can qualify to the next round.

“With the short preparation, we’re ready but, we can’t take our opponents for granted,” said Impelido, who is one of the team’s veterans. “I know (playing in) the national team is not easy. You have to work hard for it.”

A spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 will be on the line during the Asian Cup. Previously, Philippines missed the chance to qualify to the next round when Thailand qualified to both the Asian Cup and the World Cup.

“To see Thailand qualify to the (Asian Cup and World Cup) left me to think that we could have beaten them (and qualify),” added Impelido. “Now, we have to fight for our spot because we all want the same thing — to qualify for Jordan 2018.”

“With our lineup, we have a great chance (of going through),” said US-based midfielder Hanna Parado. “Qualifying to the World Cup, that’s the end goal.”

The Filipinas will begin their campaign with a match against the United Arab Emirates tonight, April 3. Kick off is at 7:00 PM local time (10:00 PM Manila time) and will be shown via live streaming at https://mycujoo.tv/ch/273?id=4540. — CAL

Azkals and Filipinas Out to Make Marks in Asian Football Scene

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The Philippine Men’s National Team’s chances of a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup are favorable yet very tricky.

The Azkals were grouped with Tajikistan, Yemen, and Nepal in Group F following the Asian Cup third round qualifying draw last night in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Before the draw, the Philippines were ranked third overall among the remaining teams in contention and were seeded in Pot 1. Tajikistan were in Pot 2, Yemen in Pot 3, and Nepal in Pot 4.

The top two teams at the end of the Qualifiers will qualify to the AFC Asian Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley, who is in Dubai for the draw, is optimistic of the Philippines’ chances in the Qualifiers.

“I like it, but we have to do our homework,” said Dooley. “(If we) prepare the right way, we will write history.”

The Asian Cup Qualifiers will run from March 28, 2017 up until March 27, 2018. The first match for the Azkals will be against Nepal on March 28 at home followed by an away leg against Tajikistan on June 13.

The Philippine Women’s National Team are also on the hunt for Asian football recognition. The Filipinas learned their fate in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers draw held last Saturday in Amman, Jordan.

The Women’s team are grouped with tournament hosts Jordan, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Tajikistan. The qualifiers kicks off on April 3 until 12 and will be held in Tajikistan. The top team in the group will advance to the final round. — CAL

Philippines WNT Out of AFF Women’s Championship

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The Philippine Women’s National Team ended their 2016 AFF Women’s Championship campaign in third place in Group A after three games at the Mandalarthiri Stadium in Mandalay, Myanmar.

With a squad composed of local university players and overseas-based recruits, the Filipinas had a good showing in the tournament considering Coach Letecia “Buda” Bautista’s squad went up against powerhouses Thailand and Vietnam. The Filipinas lost their first two games before winning their final game against Singapore last Saturday. The Philippines finished the tournament in third in Group A with three points.

The Women’s team started the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Thailand last July 26th. The Thailand team that the Philippines faced had players who played in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and are the defending champions of the competition. A bright moment for the Filipinas came from Alesa Dolino. The FEU midfielder sent a long ranged lob from near the half-way line that rattled off the bar midway the first half.

The Philippines bowed out of the tournament after another stinging 4-0 loss, this time to Vietnam, last July 28th. The Vietnamese side topped the group after posting a 14-0 win over Singapore and a 2-0 win over Thailand.

In the final match, the Filipinas came away with a 2-0 win against Singapore. UP forward Cristina De Los Reyes scored the opening goal in the fifth minute of the match. Midfielder Camille Wilson doubled the advantage five minutes after the break to give the Philippines their lone win of the competition. Vietnam and Thailand move on to the next stage of the competition. — CAL

Philippine WNT Gear Up For AFF Women’s Championships

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The Philippine Women’s National Team is set to embark on another journey in the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship which starts today, July 26th at the Mandalarthiri Stadium in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The tournament will be the second straight year that head coach Leticia “Buda” Bautista will lead the Filipinas. The Philippines have quite the uphill climb in the competition as the Philippines are in Group A with favorites Thailand and Vietnam, along with Singapore.

“There is always pressure especially as this is my second time coaching the national team pero kinakaya naman,” said Bautista on coaching the team. “The teams (we will face) will be hard to play against but with the right tactics and attitude, malay mo, bilog ang bola.”

The Women’s team had a series of try-outs last June and selected 30 players that had a month-long training camp at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

After the training camp, 20 players were selected for the tournament. Natasha Alquiros, Jennizel Cabalan, Sara Castañeda, Alesa Dolino, Inna Palacios and Hanna Parado are the only remaining players from last year’s squad. Heather Cooke and Cristina De los Reyes make their return to the squad after missing out on last year’s tournament.

New recruits Sidra Bugsch, Krystal De Ramos, Patricia Dull, Mary Duran, Caitlyn Kreutz, Claire Lim, Hali Long, Molly Manalansan, Irish Navaja, Shelby Salvacion, Patricia Tomanon, and Camille Wilson bolster the squad.

“If the players follow the discipline, nothing is impossible,” added Bautista. “They just have to commit to the philosophy.”

Assisting Bautista are former national team players Joyce Landagan and Marielle Benitez. The pair are coming off an impressive coaching run in the AFF Girls U-14 Regional Tournament, steering the side to a silver medal finish last month.

“More than the coaching experience, it’s the playing experience (in the past) that I can share to them.” said Benitez. “(Based on the camp,) the team is slowly able to execute the system that Coach Buda wants.” Benitez captained the national side for several years and still played alongside all the holdovers from last year’s team.

The Philippines first face Thailand today at 4:30 PM Manila time. Their next assignment will be against Vietnam on the 28th also at 4:30 PM Manila time, and then against Singapore on the 30th at 7:30 PM Manila time. — CAL

Haya Ibarra: We Can Compete at a High Level

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There was a sense of frustration on the part of Women’s National Team goalkeeper Haya Ibarra during the 2015 AFF Women’s Championship last May.

A UAAP champion with DLSU in 2010, Ibarra made her national team debut in the 4-1 loss against Myanmar by replacing skipper Inna Palacios in goal in the final minutes. However, it was not the debut Ibarra wanted because she knew that she lacked match fitness.

“Before the (National Team) tryouts, I hadn’t had an official match for a year and a half,” admitted Ibarra. “It allowed me to be rusty.”

Ibarra bemoaned the lack of regular competitive action despite having “a lot of talent that can represent the country internationally.” Currently, only the UAAP and the University Games are considered the highest level of competition available for women’s football in the country. The University Games are played during the semestral break.

“If the college girls don’t get to play (competitive football) after the UAAP season, what would happen to the national team?” Ibarra questioned.

The PFF Women’s Cup, which kicked off last Sunday, August 9 at Rizal Memorial Stadium, proved to be an answer to Ibarra’s question.

“(The Women’s Cup) allows us players to continue playing football at a high level,” explained Ibarra. “We have the chance to showcase our worth (once again).”

The goalkeeper played in her first match of the Cup for Green Archers United FC last Sunday. The Archers won, 1-0, over defending champions Far Eastern University. Former Ateneo midfielder Milka Romero scored the only goal of the match in the first 30 seconds of the match.

“It was a good start,” said Ibarra about the win. “We already felt like champions had we gotten a draw but (the result) turned out to be even better.”

With the Women’s Cup, which is only on its second year, Ibarra hopes that other clubs emulate what they have done in Green Archers United. A good number of former UAAP players are in the Archers squad, including national team players Marielle Benitez, Belay Fernando, Maan del Carmen, Leah Cruz, Pearl Aguilar, Marianne Narciso, and even current national team assistant coach Joyce Landagan.

“We want to get rid of boundaries (brought on) by the UAAP rivalries,” added Ibarra. “We just want to get players who want to remain competitive and committed to play with us.”

Ibarra’s former coach in the DLSU, Coach Hans-Peter Smit, heaped praise on the efforts of Ibarra and the other players to continue playing after their stint in the UAAP.

“There’s a lot of girls that really want to play whether they are working or not,” explained Smit. “(The Women’s Cup) says a lot but there should be more, a lot more tournaments (during the year).”

The PFF Women’s Cup continues this Sunday, August 16 with the venue yet to be announced. — CAL

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

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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 Castañeda
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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