Filipina booters gets huge shot in making history in the Asian Cup Qualifier

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CHASING HISTORY. The Filipinas have their golden opportunity to qualify for the Women's Asian Cup (Photo from the Myanmar Football Federation)
By Kevin Estrada

Group of Hope? It can.

The Philippine women's national team were given the lightest draw possible in their quest of playing for the FIFA Women's World Cup after knowing their opponents in the qualifiers of the AFC Women's Asian Cup last Saturday in Amman.

At stake is one of five spots for the said continental tournament next year in Jordan, with holders Japan, Australia and China occupying the first three slots due to their performance in Vietnam 2014.

Leticia Bautista's ladies, who ranked 69 in the world, were drawn in group A to Jordan who ranked 52nd, 75th-ranked Bahrain, qualifying host Tajikistan, Iraq and UAE who are unranked. With the tournament hosts participating in the qualifiers as part of their preparation for hosting the tournament next year, a runner-up finish will be enough for the Filipinas to go through, provided that Jordan wins the group which kicks off on April 3.

The Filipina booters last played in the continental showcase in 2003, in which they suffered a 0-15 thrashing to Japan before winning 2-1 over Guam on the final day.

They came close in Bangladesh in 2013, wherein they were denied by the linesman's flag in their second game against eventual World Cuppers Thailand that could have send them through to Vietnam on goal difference.

Coach Buda surely breathed a huge sigh of relief on how the draw turned out for them, especially in group B, where in the two Koreas, with the North hosting their group, were drawn with their nemesis south of the 38th parallel in a proverbial death match for a lone spot in the final round.

Reigning ASEAN queens Thailand were drawn to group C with Palestine hosting along with Chinese Taipei, Guam and Lebanon, with Vietnam hosting group D with fellow ASEAN sides Myanmar and Singapore, with Iran and Syria rounding up their group.

Afterwards, the leading ladies of Filipina football, goalkeeper Inna Palacios, forward Jessie Shugg and former skipper Marielle Benitez expressed its excitement in their qualifying group in the team's facebook page.

This is a huge deal. The Philippine national pool of players is really strong. Especially when you add in the overseas girls into the equation. It's time to have the Philippines be a substantial threat in the AFC rather than being on the opposite side. If the PFF can begin executing their preparations now and ring together their strongest players, there's no doubt we will be a threat in this tournament. And heck, actually be able to make some history and win the tournament to qualify for the World Cup qualifiers. The time is now, we need to make it happen! - Jessie Shugg, forward.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada