McDaniel: Hard part’s just about to start | Inquirer Sports
AFTER AFF WIN

McDaniel: Hard part’s just about to start

Despite a string of landmark accomplishments of the Philippine women’s football team in a space of seven months, goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel is bracing for things to get tougher in the lead-up to next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup.

“The progression has just been so great,” McDaniel said. “And I think that, like coach Alen [Stajcic] tells us, is it’s easy to change, it’s easy to see when it’s in the beginning.

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“But once we hit these milestones, we hit these championships or we start winning, it’s only gonna get harder for us to keep progressing,” the team’s main shot-stopper added.

Expectations are now higher for the Filipinas following their triumph in the recent Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

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Plans are for the Filipinas to face stiff opposition in friendlies slated later in the year in order to strengthen their chances of putting up at least a good showing in Fifa’s showpiece event.

Challenges

For McDaniel, the team will be in for what she feels are greater challenges compared to the ones they experienced in the recent AFF run, the bronze medal campaign in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup where the Philippines got its World Cup berth.

“This is going to be the hard part for us,” said McDaniel, who also expressed confidence that the Filipinas can once again defy the odds.

“I know this team can do it. We’re resilient and it’s a special group. So I think we just keep pushing our progression and we’ll just go even farther,” she added.

Meanwhile, friendly matches in the country could be in the pipeline for the squad before the team plunges into World Cup action.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said home games during the latter part of the Filipinas’ buildup are being eyed to give fans the opportunity to witness the team before Fifa’s premier showcase.

“We were talking about it after the [final of the AFF Women’s Championship] and we plan to hold a four-nation tournament here, maybe [in] June,” Araneta said on Tuesday.

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Interest in seeing Stajcic’s squad play in person in future matches are high, especially after 8,257 saw the Filipinas win the AFF title with a 3-0 beating of Thailand at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

But Araneta hinted that the mini-tournament may be held elsewhere since the PFF is looking at a grass pitch in order for the team to familiarize itself with the natural surface that will be used in the World Cup that will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

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TAGS: Fifa Women’s World Cup, Filipinas, Olivia McDaniel
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