Mark Torcaso remained upbeat despite the Filipinas’ 8-0 drubbing by the Matildas last Sunday in Perth during the second round of the 2024 AFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The Matildas, ranked 11th in the world and semifinalists in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, were simply in a class above the Filipinas, who were down by five goals at halftime. Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord scored three goals each, securing a comprehensive victory for the home side.
The result is the latest in a noticeable trend that highlights how far the Filipinas have come and how much further they still have to go before they can compete against the best international teams.
“The lesson for me is ensuring the players are better prepared for tournaments and competitions like this,” said Torcaso. “But also, understanding how we set up from an opposition perspective to limit the goals against a good team like that.
“We practiced this against Japan and South Korea at the Asian Games, and it was another eye-opener for us here. But we want our players to be challenged against the best. We also aim to not just defend but create goal-scoring opportunities as well.”
The Filipinas’ dreams of advancing to the third round are now in jeopardy. Australia has virtually secured its ticket to the next phase by leading Group A with six points and a goal difference of plus-10.
The Philippines, currently in second place in Group A, is now last in the ranking of group runners-up with three points and a goal difference of minus-5. North Korea currently leads this table with four points, followed by Vietnam, which has three points and a goal difference of plus-1.
The 2022 AFF Women’s Championship winners need to defeat Iran this Wednesday by a large margin and hope that results in other groups go their way to have a chance of keeping their Parisian ambitions alive.
Despite the odds, the Filipinas are determined to give it their best shot.
“We have a goal to score as many goals as possible in this competition,” said Torcaso. “Our goal is to secure six points, and anything beyond that is a bonus.
“If we go out and secure three points against Iran, that’s great. If that means we qualify, even better. If not, it’s a learning experience, and we know what we need to do,” he continued.
“We’re going to approach that game differently and ensure that we push ourselves to have a chance to qualify.”