BAGUIO

Cordillera footbelles join U16 Philippine squad

WITH THE continued growth of football in the Cordillera region, three girls from the region are set to join the Philippines squad for the upcoming Asean Football Federation (AFF) U16 Girls Championship from May 1 to 13.

The event, which will take place in Palembang, Indonesia, will test the mettle of the different squads in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Myanmar which composes Group A.

Bunched in Group B are Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

Cordillera will be represented by Lorjane Aludos of Benguet State University, a veteran of last year's campaign, together with Baguio City National High School’s Kylie Panagan and Eunique Bocalan.

This year's squad will be bannered by Bella Hosking, a Filipina-Brit centerback living in Thailand, and Isabel Mapanao, a towering Filipina raised in Switzerland.

The tournament was originally slated for June, but the AFF moved it up a month early compressing compressed the training schedule as the coaching staff needed to scramble to sew up the odds and ends of the campaign.

Coach Marielle Benitez's squad hopes to exceed the feat of last year's U16 team that finished second to Thailand in Laos.

The coaching staff looked at around 700 players and have whittled the squad down to 22. Former women's national team mentor Buda Bautista will also be a consultant for the team.

Benitez said the girls have been playing friendlies against several boys teams from Kaya, Football Funatics, Ceres Youth, and Green Archers United to toughen them up for the rigors of international play adding while they understandably have had difficulty against male teams, they have played them tough every time. (PR)


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