PRIDE and HONOR | Inna Palacios savors the Malditas going full circle ahead of their Women's Asian Cup return

PRIDE and HONOR | Inna Palacios savors the Malditas going full circle ahead of their Women's Asian Cup return

Inna Palacios was proud to see the Malditas going full circle right before her eyes as she will lead the team out in their return to the Women's Asian Cup. Rio Milanese Villegas/file
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- For Inna Palacios, it was a full circle.

Since debuting for the Malditas in the 2012 AFF Women's Championship, the country's top female shot-stopper was there in the best and worst of the times, as she hopes that her veteran leadership will be in full display as she leads them to Jordan ahead of their return to the AFC Women's Asian Cup next week.

After Wednesday's send-off, the former legend of La Salle football said that everything that they've worked for the past six years was all worth it when they booked their spot in Tajikistan last year.

"Siyempre, pride and honor. And were very thankful and blessed that i was given the opportunity to be with the team," she said. "It's been a long journey. And this was the goal back then. We fell short, and we make sure the next time we get the chance, we took it."

Palacios then echoed Rabah Benlarbi's statements about their build-up to the continental showpiece, as she hopes that their element of surprise will be advantageous to them who are seeded the lowest in the eight-team field that served as the final round of the Asian qualifiers for next year's women's Asian Cup.

"I don't think, like what coach Rabah said, they are not waiting for us. They think the Philippines is an easy game, so we'll give them what they are not expecting and will try to surprise them," she added, as they face a winnable yet, tough group A that has the former Women's World Cup finalist China in their ranks, as well as the host nation who pounded the Malditas for five in their final qualifier last year.

With the Azkals created history last Tuesday, Palacios was proud of her counterpart in Neil Etheridge who both shared a common bond on being the the first-choice keepers for their respective senior sides.

"Neil and I often message on twitter, mostly kumustahan lang. It's a good communication between two goalkeepers representing the senior team for years now."

And with the tourney almost a week away, she hopes that the Filipinos in the Hashemite Kingdome turn up in droves to ease the homesickness while they are more than 8,000 kilometers away.

"Mahirap makakuha ng support pag malayo. But I know, everyone here back at home 100% behind our backs and we will guarantee that we will give everything."

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada

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