Filipinas at the Fifa Women’s World Cup: How they got there and what awaits them
The day 18 months in the making has finally come with the Philippine women’s football team hoping to make its mark in the Fifa Women’s World Cup not just as mere participants, but as a squad that could legitimately make a strong impression against some of women’s football’s best nations.
The results of the team will only be secondary for hardcore fans, who have been eager to see the Filipinas step onto the pitch for the expanded quadrennial meet that will make a lot of firsts.
But the team will still try to make an impression as they hope to use the country’s first appearance in football’s biggest stage to inspire young dreamers.
HOW THE FILIPINAS QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP?
The Philippines reached the world stage after a dramatic quarterfinal victory over Chinese-Taipei sealed its place in the 2023 edition as one of four semifinalists of the continental tournament.
But the actual road to the World Cup started in September 2021 when the Philippines defeated Nepal and Hong Kong in the Asian Cup qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan under coach Marlon Maro, who later handed the reins to Alen Stajcic.
Stajcic guided the Filipinas to a second-place finish in Group A behind Australia after wins over Thailand and Indonesia to set up the memorable face-off with the Taiwanese side.
It’s the country’s first appearance in a football World Cup, regardless of gender or age level.
HOW MANY TEAMS ARE IN THE WORLD CUP?
The Filipinas are one of 32 teams that will play in the expanded edition of Fifa’s premier showcase, adding eight more from the field of 24 during the 2019 World Cup in France.
Stajcic’s squad is joined by seven other World Cup debutants, namely Ireland, Portugal, Haiti, Morocco, Panama, Zambia and fellow Southeast Asian side Vietnam.
Seeking a third straight title is the United States while teams like England, Germany and Spain could spoil that bid.
WHERE IS THE FILIPINAS GROUPED?
The Filipinas were drawn in Group A alongside co-host New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway following a ceremony held in late-October. All of their games will be held in New Zealand.
HOW DID THE FILIPINAS PREPARE?
Stajcic used the 18 months to hold camps overseas, namely in the United States and in his home country of Australia. But the Filipinas also traveled to Costa Rica, Chile, and Spain to play a series of friendlies or pocket tournaments.
During that period, the Philippines competed in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship at Rizal Memorial Stadium, the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and in Cambodia and in the first round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Hisor, Tajikistan.
WHEN WILL THE FILIPINAS PLAY?
Friday’s opener will have the Filipinas meet Switzerland in Dunedin before facing the cohost in an intriguing encounter on July 25 in Wellington. They wrap up the group stage on July 30 in Auckland against Norway.
The Filipinas will spend most of their training in Auckland, which is where their base camp is located.
FULL SCHEDULE HERE.
WHERE ARE THE GAMES GOING TO BE SHOWN?
A last-minute deal between Cignal TV and Fifa allowed the Philippines the chance to witness all Filipinas games on free television via One Sports on Channel 41 and on the new Pilipinas Live app.
The broadcast agreement came amid calls from fans to have a local media outlet step up and take the TV rights despite Fifa’s desire to allow higher bids than in the past.
WHO WERE THE PLAYERS SELECTED TO MAKE THE SQUAD?
Stajcic named 23 players to the squad, namely Sarina Bolden, Hali Long, Olivia McDaniel, Quinley Quezada, Katrina Guillou, Tahnai Annis, Dominique Randle, Angela Beard, Jessika Cowart, Reina Bonta, Ryley Bugay, Sofia Harrison, Carleigh Frilles, Chandler McDaniel, Sara Eggesvik, Jaclyn Sawicki, Malea Cesar, Kiara Fontanilla, Kaiya Jota, Isabella Flanigan, Meryll Serrano, Alicia Barker and Anicka Castaneda.
Inna Palacios, Maya Alcantara and Isabella Pasion were named as reserves while notable players Eva Madarang, Jessica Miclat and Kaya Hawkinson were cut after the Sydney camp.
HOW MUCH WILL EACH FILIPINAS PLAYER WILL RECEIVE?
All 23 players selected to play for the World Cup will each get at least $30,000 (P1.64 million) just for competing in the World Cup, a milestone bonus for the Filipinas.
The pot will be raised if the Filipinas create a miracle and get past the group stage.
WHAT OTHER PERKS DID THE FILIPINAS GET?
For getting into the World Cup, the Filipinas and the rest of the Women’s World Cup teams became playable teams in the popular football video game Fifa 23 while trading cards and stickers dedicated to the competition were also released.
The Filipinas are also outfitted by Adidas, who designed blue, red and white kits for the competition. The German brand, who once sponsored the men’s team several decades ago, became the team’s kit supplier after a deal was forged in February 2023.