It’s been nearly two months since the Philippine National Women’s Football Team, more popularly known as the Filipinas, won the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship. Ever since then, the team has seen more and more support from local fans. And now, they need the support more than ever as they continue on their journey to next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Tomorrow, the Filipinas will be going up against the New Zealand national team. Even though the two teams are only playing a friendly match, both their performances will be crucial to improving and building confidence in preparation for the World Cup.
Playing against the Football Ferns
New Zealand’s national women’s football team is also known as the ‘Football Ferns’. They currently sit 22nd in the FIFA Women’s World rankings. They are one of the highly ranked teams the Filipinas will have gone up against this year. In the recent AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the Filipinas fell to South Korea, who was 18th in the world.
While not the strongest team in the lineup for the coming World Cup, the Football Ferns still have experience competing in major international tournaments. They qualified for the World Cup six times (not including 2023). However, they have not been able to make it past the group stage.
New Zealand’s team has also represented their country in the Olympics four times. Their best result was an eighth-place finish in 2012.
Similar to the Filipinas, as well as all the other World Cup contenders, the team has been preparing for the World Cup next year, competing in friendlies. In their last five games, they have won once and drawn once. But even so, they remain one of the most competitive nations that the Filipinas will have to face. This makes for the perfect training ground for our team.
Up for the challenge
In comparison to New Zealand, the Filipinas have less experience in major international tournaments and are 53rd in the world, below the Football Ferns. And the coach of the Filipinas, Alen Stajcic has admitted himself that playing against New Zealand will be a “massive challenge”. In recognizing this, the Filipinas have been training together for the past few weeks in the US in preparation for the match.
Over at their training camp in Irvine, California, 27 of our national team’s players have been focusing on their training. This includes new players that have recently been brought in to further strengthen the squad, not just for the upcoming friendly, but for the World Cup.
While you will likely recognize many names, like Sarina Bolden and Olivia McDaniel, the team is also welcoming four new players. Midfielders Reinna Gabriel and Meryll Serrano, defender Reina Bonta, and goalkeeper Kaiya Jota are some new names to watch out for in tomorrow’s match. They have also been training in the US camp as well.
The Filipinas won two of their last three friendlies, both wins against Bosnia and Herzegovina, who did not qualify for the World Cup. This upcoming match against New Zealand will be the perfect stage to build their confidence as a team and to gain insight into where they may stand among the other World Cup contenders. It will also certainly be a valuable addition to our players’ experience.
Don’t forget to set your alarms, Filipinas fans!