MANILA, Philippines – 2023 will be a historic year for Philippine sports as the country will make its first appearance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Led by Sarina Bolden, the national women’s football team blazed the trail for the country as no other Philippine football team has ever cracked the world’s top tournament in football. The country is set to share the spotlight with the 31 other nations who will be showcasing football action at the highest level.
Here are some key facts on the Philippines’ road to the World Cup.
How did the Philippines qualify?
After the Matildas qualified for the Women’s Asian Cup in 2021, the Philippine Football Federation announced that their former World Cup head coach Alen Stajcic had come on board to steer the team.
In January 2022, the Philippines made its 10th appearance in the Women’s Asian Cup in India where the country had a chance to nab one of the five slots that would send them to the World Cup.
In the quarterfinal, the Philippines needed a win against Chinese-Taipei to secure both a semifinal spot and a maiden appearance in the World Cup. With both teams gritting it out throughout the match, Filipina Quinley Quezada only opened the floodgates in the 49th minute. However, Taipei captain Hsiang-Huei converted a penalty to equalize the game at 1-1 in the 78th minute.
Scoreless during extra time, both teams dragged the match into a penalty shootout. After Jessica Miclat missed the third penalty, the Philippines rallied back in dramatic fashion.
Chinese-Taipei missed its next two attempts and Filipino-American Hali Long failed to convert, but Filipina goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel equalized the shootout at 3-3. It was Filipina star Sarina Bolden who put an end to the thriller and sealed the country’s fate for the World Cup.
Where and when will the World Cup be staged?
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20. The quadrennial meet will be held across nine cities and 10 venues.
Ranked No. 53 in the world, the Philippines is bunched in Group A with New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland. The group’s games will be staged in New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland or in Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
The Philippines will kick off its campaign against Switzerland on July 21 at 1 pm, Philippine time. The Filipinas will then will go against host team New Zealand on July 23, 1:30 pm, and will cap off the group stage against Norway on July 30 at 3 pm.
How is the Philippines preparing?
Head coach Stajcic, along with newly appointed under-20 head coach Nahuel Arrarte, have been conducting tryouts for the national team both in the Philippines and North America.
The expansion of the Philippine women’s football talent pool extends beyond the World Cup as the team makes an effort to strengthen its succession program.
The Filipinas will be kicking off their preparations this year in the 2023 Pinatar Cup that will be staged from February 15 to 21 in Murcia, Spain. The Philippines will size up against experienced European teams Wales, Scotland, and Iceland.
It will continue to be a busy year for the Filipinas as their Olympic qualifying bid will begin in April. The Philippines also aims to make history in the Southeast Asian Games in May after the World Cup-bound team secured a bronze medal in the regional biennial meet for the first time in 37 years.
Who are the teams in Group A?
New Zealand’s co-hosting of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup celebrates the 50 years women’s football was welcomed back into the country.
Though the team Football Ferns has never gotten past the group stage in the World Cup, it has proven to have strengthened its international performance in the sport.
Since 2007, New Zealand has dominated the quadrennial Oceania Football Confederation’s Nations Cup, winning four straight titles.
Now, the 24th-ranked team will be featuring a stacked squad of players who have drawn experiences from major football leagues all over the world such as Australia’s A-League, Women’s Super League in the United Kingdom and USA’s National Women’s Soccer League.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Ria Percival is currently the most capped player at 161 appearances while Hannah Wilkinson, who plays for Melbourne City FC, is the squad’s current top goalscorer with 27 international goals.
Norway has been one of the top teams in Europe, producing legends since the 1980s, and winning the 1995 FIFA World Cup and 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Going by the team name Gresshoppene, which is Norwegian for grasshopper, Norway has qualified for the FIFA World Cup eight times and has also secured two runner-up finishes and a pair of semis appearances. The Nordic country sealed a berth in the 2023 edition of the quadrennial meet after finishing on top of Group F in the UEFA qualifying tournament.
Norway will enter the tournament ranked No. 13 in the world complete with its brightest stars. 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg will return to represent Norway in the World Cup after she quit playing for the national team over a dispute on equal pay with the Norwegian Football Federation.
The Lyon striker continues to be the topscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 59 goals. She will load up the frontline together with FC Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen and Reading FC’s Amalie Eikeland.
Switzerland, ranked No. 21, became one of the rising teams in Europe after sealing its first World Cup berth in 2015. The Swiss have also barged into the European Championships for the first time in 2017, but have failed to advance to knockout stages.
The La Nati secured their second World Cup appearance after emerging on top of round 2 of the playoffs.
The 29-year-old Lia Wälti may not be the most veteran player, but the Arsenal stalwart will continue to captain Switzerland.
World Cup hero Ramona Bachmann, who scored the winning goal against Wales in extra time that sent them back into the quadrennial meet, will fortify the team with her veteran experience. Svenja Fölmli, a bright 20-year-old star playing for Germany’s SC Freiburg, will flash her potential to be the next big star in her World Cup debut.
How to purchase tickets?
Filipinos can purchase tickets to the matches in the FIFA website until March 3. The ticket prices of the group stage matches range from 20 AUD to 40 AUD (around P770 to P1,550).
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