by Jonas Terrado
The Philippine Malditas, the national women’s football team, moved a step closer towards completing a historic achievement after winning their first three matches in convincing fashion in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Coached by Buda Bautista, the Malditas posted identical 4-0 victories over the United Arab Emirates and Iraq before delivering an 8-0 thrashing of host Tajikistan last Friday at the Republican Central Stadium to tie Jordan for the lead in Group A at nine points apiece.
At least a draw is needed by the Filipina booters either against Bahrain tomorrow night or against Jordan on Wednesday to secure their first appearance since the competition was renamed as the Asian Cup in 2006.
The Malditas must top the group or finish second – Jordan is assured of a spot being the host of the Asian Cup – in order to qualify. The Philippines had appeared eight times when it was known as the Asian Women’s Championship.
Anicka Castaneda and Hali Long each scored a hat trick while Castaneda’s sister Sara and Eva Madarang also found the back of the net for the Malditas in their win over Tajikistan.
Madarang and Long lead the squad for most goals with four each, some of which were done with quality.