Limpag: Malditas make their case in AFC

DURING one inconsequential practice in high school, a female batchmate caused quite a stir in the campus when--wearing the school uniform and all--she joined the team in a scrimmage.

She was clumsy and all, but I remember she caused a few smiles at her audacity to join the boys’ football team in practice.

Football, after all, is for the guys, not for the girls who want to take care of their complexion and long hairs.

When girls football picked up pace in Cebu seven or eight years ago, a sentiment like that was still not uncommon and I guess, you have all these advertisements for whitening products to blame--because beauty becomes associated with the color of one’s skin.

After a brief lull, girls football in Cebu is picking up again and more kids--girls and boys alike--are picking up the sport.

For the boys, it’s all about the Azkals, and the dream to make the national team. For the girls, they now have a new goal, the Malditas, who are slowly changing the way other countries look at us by their impressive stint in the qualifiers for the AFC women’s Cup.

Coaches from schools that have no football programs always tell me, the parents contact them to put up a program for their school because their kids keep telling them to start one. Even schools that don’t have a pitch are putting up one.

The growing interest, they say, is because of what the Azkals have done and a lot are joining the football bandwagon.

Just imagine what an impact it would be on girls football, had the Malditas scored

that mighty upset against Thailand in the women’s cup.

The Malditas came so close, losing to the Thais, 1-0, a couple of years after dropping a 5-1 match.

It was the second straight game that the Malditas have made the guys running the Fifa rankings shake their head and ask, “What did we miss about this Philippine team?”

Against Iran--11th in Asia and 52nd in the world--the Malditas (18th in Asia, 83rd in the world) tore their defense to shreds in a 6-0 win.

Against the Thais--sixth in Asia, 29th in the world--the Pinays more than held their own and if not for a disallowed goal in the dying minutes, their fates would still be in their hands. Now, the Philippines will have to rely on the improbable--Iran beating Thailand.

Despite the loss, their results in the first two games show the Malditas, not just the Azkals, are contenders to give the Philippines its first major trophy in years.

And, one more thing, when it comes to hosting friendlies in Cebu, we always talk about the Azkals and who they should face. The Malditas showing in the AFC women’s cup means its about time we give the team that home game. Let’s give them a chance to play in front of the home crowd and yes it’s time we bring the Malditas to Cebu!

It’s the middle of the year, I’m sure we have more than enough time to have a Malditas friendly here, right?

P.S. While praying for that friendly to happen, pray too, that Iran turn the football world upside down with an upset when it faces Thailand in the final game of the qualifiers. If that happens, the Malditas only need six goals against Bangladesh to qualify.



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