The national women’s football team aims to put one foot on the semifinals against Cambodia today to begin its medal bid in the 31st Southeast Asian Games at the Cam Pha Stadium in Quang Ninh, Vietnam.
Expectations are high ahead of the 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. Manila time) as the Filipinas see action in their first major competition since securing a historic World Cup berth via the AFC Women’s Asian Cup last February in India.
Also motivating the squad is the eagerness to step on the podium this time after settling for a fourth place finish during the 2019 edition in Manila.
“We’re looking forward to this tournament,” said coach Alen Stajcic. “It’s an important tournament for us and we want to really build on the performances in the Asian Cup.
“A lot of teams underestimated us in the Asian Cup, and we’re certainly not going to do that here,” added the Australian mentor.
Getting the full three points will likely send the Philippines to the semis as one of two teams in Group A which also has host and defending champion Vietnam.
The Filipinas face Vietnam on May 11 to complete the group stage campaign. Only three teams are in Group A following the withdrawal of Indonesia.
Stajcic has brought in most of the players who were instrumental in the Asian Cup run.
Tahnai Annis, Hali Long and Olivia McDaniel lead the ladies’ quest while Japan-based players Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada are also part of the official lineup.
The rest of the lineup are Jaclyn Sawicki, Chantelle Maniti, Alisha del Campo, Camille Rodriguez, Dom Randle, Inna Palacios, Jessica Miclat, Eva Madarang, Kaya Hawkinson, Sofia Harrison, Carleigh Frilles, Isabella Flanigan, Malea Cesar and Ryley Bugay.
The team spent the past month training in Sydney, Australia while also winning all four friendlies against Fiji and Tonga.