By ADRIAN STEWART CO
Negrense booter Charissa Marie Lemoran will banner the 22-player Philippines women’s football team competing in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 qualifiers beginning on September 18 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
This will be the fourth call up of the San Carlos City, Negros Occidental-native to the Philippine Malditas after playing in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games and in 2018 and 2019 edition of AFF Women’s Championship.
The 22-year-old Lemoran was a staple in football tournaments in Negros Occidental as she led San Carlos City to numerous titles before she was recruited by the University of Santo Tomas in 2016.
Aside from Lemoran, other members of the Malditas are co-team captains Inna Palacios and Hali Long, Anicka Castaneda, Tahnai Annis, Jessica Miclat, Ryley Bugay, Arianna LePage, and Isabelle Mapanao.
Rounding up the squad are Olivia McDaniel, Sofia Harrison, Chelo Hodges, Tara Shelton, Patricia Tomanon, Sara Castaneda, Malea Cesar, Rocelle Mendano, Camille Rodriguez, Alyssa Ube, Camille Wilson, Alisha Del Campo, and Chandler McDaniel.
Serving as head coach to the team supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and MVP Sports Foundation is Marlon Maro, with Michael Agbayani, Jose Maria Aberasturi, Marlon Pinero, Anthony Albao, and Rose Ton Barinan serving as his assistants.
In preparation for the qualifiers, the team had online training sessions earlier this year before conducting a training camp in Irvine, California, USA from August 4 to September 11.
The Malditas open the qualifiers against Nepal on September 18 at the JAR Stadium at 3:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. time) in Group F, before capping the qualifiers on September 24 against Hong Kong at 3:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. time).
The Malditas are targeting two straight victories as the team that tops its group is the only one that can book a ticket into the tournament proper slated from January 20 to February 6.
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which is set to be held in India, serves as the final qualification phase of the Asian continent for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand./ASC, WDJ