Eager, big-dreaming Filipinas set for World Cup grouping
The prospect of seeing the Philippines face the likes of the United States, England and recent opponents New Zealand, Ireland and Costa Rica in next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup is causing plenty of excitement in the local football community.
“To be part of the tournament is a tremendous honor for the country,” Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said ahead of the draw ceremony of Fifa’s biggest showpiece for women to be held Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand.
But the national federation and the Filipinas understand that showing up won’t be enough, as the draw will be the first step in making sure that the determined group of lady footballers can compete against their fancied foes.
“We also have to dream big and come up with a good showing,” added Araneta heading into the ceremony which starts at 2:30 p.m. Manila time inside Aotea Center.
Coach Alen Stajcic and team manager Jefferson Cheng are slated to attend the proceedings, which at the end will finally give the former a clear view on how to map out his early plans for the Filipinas in the lead-up to the July 20 opener.
“We will definitely pull out all the stops to ensure that the team will go into the World Cup as prepared as possible,” said PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes.
Placed in Pot 4 along with the lowest seeded teams and the qualifiers through the inter-confederation playoffs, the Filipinas are assured of having to face at least two of the world’s cream of the crop.
Pot 1 has the celebrated American squad which has won the last two editions and the English side that a few months ago captured Euro 2022 before its home fans at Wembley Stadium in London.
Others in the top pot are Sweden, Germany, France and Spain while cohosts New Zealand and Australia are already seeded in Groups A and B.
Canada, Netherlands, Brazil, Norway and Italy are in Pot 2 along with former World Cup winner Japan, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup champion China and South Korea.
Stajcic’s side, however, can’t be seeded alongside the three fellow Asian countries, fellow AFC member Australia and Vietnam, placed in Pot 3, under the draw guidelines.
The rest of the teams in Pot 3 area Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica and Jamaica. Joining the Philippines in Pot 4 are Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Zambia and three from the 10 teams in the aforementioned inter-confederation playoffs.
Portugal, Cameroon and Thailand are in Group A, Chile, Senegal and Haiti compose Group B while Group C has Chinese Taipei, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea and Panama.