The Filipinas will be facing Switzerland, New Zealand, and Norway in the Group Stage of the Women’s World Cup — here’s what you should know about their opponents.
The Philippine Women’s National Football Team is (happily and proudly) entering uncharted territory as the Filipinas embark on their first-ever FIFA World Cup. Their qualification alone is historic, but the players themselves have emphasized that they are not just happy to be there as mere participants — they will be fighting to advance as far into the tournament as they can.
But to advance, the Filipinas will first have to tackle the Group Stage where they will be facing New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland as part of Group A.
Here’s what you need to know about each of the Philippines’ first three opponents.
Switzerland – World No. 20
Philippines vs. Switzerland: July 21, 1:00 PM
Based on ranking alone, Switzerland is expected to advance out of the Group Stage as the second-highest-ranked team in Group A. However, the Swiss had to fight hard for a spot in the World Cup, having to defeat Wales from behind in the dying moments of extra time in the qualifying tournament. But, it is exactly this resilient spirit that will make this team a force to be reckoned with.
Although they remain winless in their five matches since their crucial 2-1 victory over Wales, fans can still expect that Switzerland’s players will put up a hard fight, no matter what position they are put in, riding on the high and motivation in knowing that they nearly missed a chance to qualify.
New Zealand – World No. 26
Philippines vs. New Zealand – July 25, 1:30 PM
New Zealand already has one clear edge coming into the Women’s World Cup. As one of the co-hosts of the tournament, their team will be competing with home-soil advantage. They will definitely be using this to their advantage, given that they’ve had to settle for fourth place in Group Stages in the last four World Cups, and they will be hoping to advance for the first time in history.
But, they will have to work hard to do so, as the Football Fearns have not won an international match in their last seven games. However, their squad is comprised of both young and experienced players, and with this balance, they are still expected to perform well.
But, the Philippines also has its own edge against New Zealand. Despite losing 2-1 to the Football Fearns last year in September, the Filipinas have some understanding of their style of play based on this experience, and they may be able to use this to their advantage as they face the World Cup co-hosts.
Norway – World No. 12
Philippines vs. Norway – July 30, 3:00 PM
Norway is widely considered the favorite of Group A as the highest-ranked team among the four. But apart from their ranking, their squad features some big names in women’s football such as returning star and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, Ada Hegerberg, and Caroline Graham Hansen, one of the country’s top scorers in the previous World Cup.
However, the 1995 World Cup champions will need to shake off the remains from their performance at the recent Euro 2022 tournament — where they were handed an 8-0 loss to England and eliminated in the Group Stages — if they hope to bounce back from this and become champions once again.
Philippines – World No. 46
As the only World Cup debutants in Group A, still relatively new to the big stages of international football, the Philippines is considered the underdog among these four teams. However, under the leadership of head coach Alen Stajcic, the Filipinas have been on a string of tournaments that have helped the players learn and improve from experience.
Apart from international friendlies, this year, the Filipinas have also competed in the recent Southeast Asian Games, the Olympic Qualifiers, and the European Pinatar Cup, with a total win-loss record of 5-4 from these three major tournaments.
Most notably thus far, the Filipinas dominated their run at the Olympic Qualifiers, where they won all three matches by margins of four goals or more, and from this, they have advanced to the next round of qualifiers taking place later this year.
No one can deny the uptick in performances that the Philippine Women’s National Football Team have been exhibiting ever since their historic World Cup qualification. And because of their momentum, favorites in the World Cup or not, they cannot be so easily written off. After all, they wouldn’t be the first underdog team to pull off an upset.
How do you think the Filipinas will perform in the Group Stage?
Banner image from Philippine Football Federation on Facebook.