To win football games, you have to be able to score goals. If Philippine Malditas head coach Marlon Maro is to be believed, the Filipinas are out to go and get a lot of them in Uzbekistan in the next few days.
The Malditas kick off their campaign in the AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifiers on Saturday when they take on Nepal in Tashkent, Uzbekistan at 6 p.m. (Philippine time). In a group that also includes Hong Kong, anything less than a victory could result in early elimination, as only the top team among the three at the end of the single round robin advances to the Asian Cup competition proper, which is a qualifying tournament to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia.
To become that top team, the no. 1 seed Malditas aren't afraid to go on the offensive.
"All the games, we will attack in numbers because we really want to score to win," explained Maro before adding they would also defend in numbers as well.
Despite not having the services of pro league players, such as Japan-based Quinley Quezada and Sarina Bolden, team captain Inna Palacios is happy with the brand of football the Malditas has been playing with.
"It's dynamic kind of football so we are learning to hold the ball and at the same time create plays for everyone," detailed the skipper. "We are evolving into what football is right now. It's a much faster game, a more intelligent game."
Maro added it's the quality of personnel that allows them to play the way they do.
"We play with our strength - we have the players again that could hold the ball," shared the shot-caller. "We eliminate the plays that are more direct."
This is a Malditas team with a good mix of veteran presence and new faces, with five players who could potentially make their debuts in Tashkent. Even better, they're heading into the qualifiers with their confidence as high as it has ever been thanks to their recent month-long training camp in Irvine, California.
"We did a good job in California through the final plan of the PFF, and it's worth it," stated Maro, while also adding that they played five official matches as part or preparations.
It's no secret the final goal of the Philippines is to qualify for the next edition of the Women's World Cup - a realistic dream considering the tournament has been expanded from 24 teams to 32. To get there, though, the Malditas have to hurdle their first challenge in the AFC Women's Asian Cup qualifiers this weekend.