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Malditas play in Asian tilt

By JONAS TERRADO

The Philippine Malditas are setting their sights on making a strong impression against some of the region’s best as they make their first-ever appearance in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup which starts Friday in Amman, Jordan.

The Malditas secured a historic berth to the continental competition last year after finishing second to Jordan in Group A of the qualification round held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

But the Filipina booters are eyeing more than just enjoying the experience of playing against some of the region’s best in the Asian Cup as the tournament also serves as a qualifier for next year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

Each of the top two teams in Groups A and B advance to the World Cup while the third placers of both brackets figure in a playoff to determine the fifth and final slot allotted to the region.

And the Malditas believe that they are capable of getting there, though they’ll have to hurdle the big challenge of facing host Jordan on Friday, China on April 9 and Thailand on April 12.

In preparation for the tournament, the Malditas underwent foreign camps in the United States and Japan while tapping Frenchman Rabah Benlarbi, who once handled the Myanmar U-18 side.

Sara Castaneda, Eva Madarang and Hali Long, who scored four goals apiece in last year’s qualifiers, lead the Malditas roster for the Asian Cup alongside goalkeeper Inna Palacios, Patrice Impelido, Claire Lim and Alesa Dolino.

The rest of the squad are composed of Tahnai Lauren Annis, Amy Zoe Aquino, Chalise Baysa, Mea Bernal, Sarina Bolden, Morgan Brown, Kristen Ryley Bugay, Stacy Cavill, Krystal Victoria de Ramos, Alexa Diaz, Sofia Harrison, Kearra Theryse Jones, Leah Janessa Larot, Jessica Anne Miclat, Maria Luisa Park, Dylan Leigh Patterson, Quinley Mirelle Quezada, Kathleen Camille Rodriguez, Jesse Anne Shugg and Calai Lilindeokalani Simarago.

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