On Friday, history will be made as the Philippine women’s national football team, more popularly known as the Filipinas, will make its debut in one of football’s biggest stages as it competes in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Filipinas will kick off their maiden World Cup campaign against powerhouse Switzerland at 1 p.m. (Manila time) at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Head coach Alen Stajcic said everything they have done since he took over the coaching reins in October 2021 has prepared them for this historic moment the players could only dream of in the past.
“We’ve been preparing from the day we qualified. We’re probably one of the first teams to qualify for the World Cup so it’s been almost from ground zero to full throttle,” Stajcic said in a press conference ahead of their first match against the Swiss.
“We really hit full throttle, playing with teams from all around the globe [who have] different styles of football and different cultures.”
The Filipinas are touted as the underdogs in Group A, being ranked at 46th in the world while Norway is the top-ranked among them at 12th spot. Switzerland and New Zealand, meanwhile, are at 20th and 26th spots, respectively.
Still, the Australian mentor believes they took every opportunity to improve during the past couple of months before setting foot at the World Cup. They set up camp in various countries including Australia, Spain, Chile, and the United States and engaged in a number of tune-up games to develop their skills and build chemistry.
“I know we have given the players every opportunity to grow and to improve as individuals and as a group. I know that the coaching staff has given everything that they can possibly give to help accelerate their learning growth,” he added.
After facing Switzerland, the Filipinas will have a four-day break before plunging back into action on July 25 against New Zealand and on July 30 against Norway.
—Bea Micaller/JKC, GMA Integrated News