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Seven new faces make Malditas’ debut in round 2 of the Olympic Qualifier

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By Kevin Estrada

A full-strength of 23 women will banner the Philippine Women’s National Team in the second round of the Olympic Qualifiers in Doha, Qatar that will kick off on April 4, Manila time.

Unlike in the first round when she had only had 20 in Tajikistan, head coach Let Dimzon now has a full squad to contend as the stakes are higher in Group C. Only the winner between the Malditas, Chinese Taipei, and Palestine will advance into the third round.

“Women’s football has come a long way and we hope the team builds on this ahead of the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian Games this November,” said PFF secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastanes during their sendoff earlier.

Skipper Patrice Impelido and goalkeeper Inna Palacios led the 13 holdovers from their Round 1 success in Hisor, as the team also enjoys the return of Perth Glory’s Stacy Cavill and US-based Calah Simarago, as well as Eva Madarang to the fold.

Seven new faces comprise the recharged Malditas, three of them are from reigning UAAP and W-League champions La Salle led by Chelo Hodges, with Miriam’s Joyce Semacio being the lone representative from the WNCAA.

Also included is Tara Shelton as the lone rookie that is overseas based, as she plays high school football for the Holy Names Academy in the US.

The Malditas will open the second round against Iran at the Grand Hamad Stadium on Thursday midnight, Manila time.