PH Malditas eye FIFA Women's World Cup berth against China


Posted at Apr 09 2018 11:31 AM

The Philippine Malditas in training. Mia Montayre/PFF

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women's national football team's bid for qualification to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup continues on Monday night when they play powerhouse China at the King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman, Jordan.

Kick off is at 4:45 p.m. in Jordan, or 9:45 p.m. in the Philippines.

The Filipinas are trying to build on their remarkable 2-1 upset of hosts Jordan last Friday night (Saturday morning in Manila), with a win over China propelling them to the World Cup in France in 2019.

An own goal from Jordan's Yasmeen Khair and a Sarina Bolden strike gave the Philippines their first three points of the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

"We started with a win against the hosts, and in our plans before we came to Jordan we had always envisaged taking three points from our first match," said Philippine head coach Rabah Benlarbi.

"It is very important to have a balance, something which I believe we have along with the fact that we live together, we win together and we die together," he added.

Benlarbi, however, is well aware of the challenges posed by China. He was an assistant coach of China during the 2016 Rio Olympics, and saw how the Chinese routed Thailand, 4-0, in their first assignment of the tournament.

"I know China's players, and I know their strengths, and their weaknesses," said Benlarbi. "They have changed some players, but they are still a very strong team."

The Malditas are once again the underdogs against China, which has won the AFC Women's Asian Cup eight times.

However, Benlarbi said the Filipinas are "very motivated."

"If we can beat China, it would be excellent for us as it would virtually assure us of a place in the World Cup," he said. "For us, reaching the FIFA Women's World Cup would be a great achievement."

If the Malditas lose to China on Monday night, they can still secure qualification against Thailand in their last match of the group round.

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