MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Malditas open their bid in the AFF Women's Championship today, hopeful of their chances against Myanmar at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Eyeing no less than a crack at the crown in ASEAN's premier bootfest, the Malditas (85th in the Fifa rankings) immediately get their big test in the 4 p.m. Group A match (5 p.m. in Manila) against the Myanmar ladies, runners-up the last time around.
"We have been doing a lot of hard work since the last tournament. We want to show that we are serious about the game and this time round, we hope that we can have some success," said PH XI team manager Filbert Alquiros yesterday.
The country is fielding what coach Ernie Nierras described as the strongest lineup, with Fil-Ams Heather Cooke, Ashley O'Connor, Abby Komarc, Angeline and Patrice Impelido, Fil-Australian Nenita Burgess and Fil-Canadian Mallory Dayot reinforcing local stars led by team captain Marielle Benitez.
He said they are targetting to reach the finals, a big turnaround after failing to get past the group stages last year in Laos.
Ranked 47th in the Fifa list, Myanmar geared up for the tourney by training in Japan, where it played three games against clubs from the Japanese Women's Football League.
"We had some training and matches in Japan as we are looking to mold this team for the SEA Games in 2013, so this tournament is very important for us," Myanmar team manager Dr. Khin Saw Oo said.
"We finished second the last time round so we hope we can be more competitive even though we are using some new young players to be combined with the older players in the squad."