The Philippines will soon be part of one of the largest global spectacles in sports with two billion people expected to tune in and Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic can’t wait for the country to experience it.
The draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup finished earlier today in Auckland, New Zealand and the Philippine women’s national football team found themselves in Group A alongside the hosts together with Norway and Switzerland.
Head coach Alen Stajcic knew it was going to be difficult no matter what the outcome of the draw was and accepted the challenge of ramping up preparations.
“Regardless of which group we fell in, [it] would be teams that are ranked higher than us. There’s no doubt that the teams all have much more experience playing at this level–teams with proven experience and records at this level. We’re going to have to punch above our weight just to be competitive,” he said.
Hosts New Zealand, ranked 22nd in the world, will understandably have the advantage of home crowd support while the other teams in the group, 12th-ranked Norway and 21st-ranked Switzerland, are European-bred opposition with world-class players in their ranks.
The Philippines played against New Zealand in a friendly last September which resulted in a 1-2 loss. Earlier in the year, the team took on teams in Europe which resulted in a loss and two wins, games that would prove valuable in the team’s preparations.
“I don’t think there’s any one set strategy for the whole tournament we’ll have to attack each game as it comes and attack the unique challenges of playing in Dunedin, Wellington, and Auckland. Playing teams with European culture, I’m pretty confident that those learnings are going to help us come World Cup time.”
Amidst the plans of preparation, Stajcic also appreciated what this means for Filipinos who will be experiencing their very first FIFA World Cup.
“Ultimately it’s just an exciting experience for all of us, to really embrace this special moment that our country is going to be a part of a football festival that’s hopefully going to be the biggest women’s sporting event in the history of the world,” he said.
“What a wonderful experience for a country where they can support a team at the World Cup and grow the game back home.”