The Philippine women’s national football team will have the momentum on its side against Thailand.
National coach Alen Stajcic is upbeat about this going into their first game in the 2022 Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup this Friday.
The Thais, according to Stajcic, have not played in any competitive way after bagging the silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them. But after having watched the Philippines play in the last Asian Cup. And with a score of 2-1 in their (Filipinas’) last game, that should keep them going for a long time. If we can improve on their performance, we can give them a good run for their (Thais) money,” said Stajcic.
Thailand and the Filipina booters clash at 5:30 p.m. (8 p.m. in Manila) at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi, Mumbai.
Stajcic liked what he saw for the Philippines during the Group Stage in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the Filipina booters lost to Nepal, 1-2, but bounced back with a 2-1 triumph over Hong Kong last September.
After that, the Filipinas went through a big makeover with their two-and-half month training camp in Irvine, California.
Stajcic believes that Thailand’s lack of games and exposures over the last two years could take a toll on their rivals, who lost the SEA Games’ women’s crown to Vietnam.
Meantime, members of the team said they are taking very well the lessons they have learned from Stajcic, who took over from Marlon Marlo after he stepped down at the end of their campaign in Uzbekistan.
“We’re doing good. Preparations are going well,” said Fil-American forward Chandler McDaniel.
The Filipinas, according to McDaniel, are making the transition into a fighting team following their early arrival in Mumbai.
“It’s nice to fly out to India a few days earlier than we did. I think it’s helping all us of us adjust,” added McDaniel.
The squad will be playing with four new faces, namely Filipino-French Katrina Guillou, Fil-Americans Kiara Fontanilla, Dominique Randle and Isabel Flanigan.
Guillou, 28, is a midfielder currently playing for Swedish t team Piteå IF.
On the other hand, Fontanilla comes from Eastern Oregon University, while Stajcic also put two junior players, Keanne Alamo and Carleigh Frilles, into the senior squad.
Midfielder Tahnai Annis will be the skipper for this campaign, to be assisted by co-captain Hali Long.
Inna Palacios is returning to the squad with Sara Castaneda and Cam Rodriguez, alongside the likes of Chandler McDaniel, Tara Shelton, and Sofia Harrison.
The Filipina booters will be reinforced by Japan WE.League veterans Quinley Quezada of Chiba and Sarina Bolden of Saitama.
Australia will be the Philippines’ next foe on January 24, followed by Indonesia three days later.