The Philippines qualify for the first World Cup


By Steve Johnson.

The Philippines are right to celebrate a fantastic football success as Maldives (feisty ladies) have qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time since their inception in 1980.

This remarkable achievement will not surprise fans of Asian women’s football as much as the Maldives recent tournament standings have shown a desire to push and challenge the big teams in the region.

After an unspectacular history, the last few years have seen the emergence of a solid team that won two consecutive 4th places at the 2017 and 2019 editions of the Southeast Asian Games, as well as another 4th place, this time at the AFF Women’s Championship.

The most important competition in the region is the fight for the allocated World Cup places to qualify for the semi-finals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Last time out in 2018, 6th place was their final placing, as well as their first time to progress beyond the group stages.

the Maldives avoided the “group of death” which included eventual winners Japan and losing runners-up Australia, as well as South Korea. The Philippines’ hopes of winning the play-off and a chance to qualify for the World Cup were dashed by a 5-0 dismantling by South Korea.

The team was certainly in the game when the tournament started after impressive results in the other tournaments, even after the forced break in games due to COVID their march is still progressing well.

Director Alen Stajcic who came on board in October 2021 brings plenty of experience to the role having captained Australia’s women’s team, being Asian Cup runners-up twice in 2014 and 2018, and taking the Matildas to both in the World Cup and in the Olympic quarter-final.

StajčiΔ‡’s preparation, knowledge and strategic rotation added an extra dimension to the team. With only one player β€” captain Tahnai Annis – aged over 30, this is a group of young players who exude desire and a thirst for results, as evidenced by their 6-0 spanking against Indonesia in the group stage.

The quarter-final against Chinese Taipei was a huge game for both teams, it went scoreless until Quinley Quezada scored just after half-time, maintaining his admirable record of 10 goals in 20 international appearances.

NAVI MUMBAI, INDIA – JANUARY 21: Kanchanaporn Saenkhun (centre) of Thailand and Quinley Quezada (left) of the Philippines battle for the ball during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Group B match between Thailand and Philippines at DY Patil Stadium

Zhou Li-Ping equalized late in the game to extend the tie and ultimately draw penalties. Three hits each, and sudden death threatened. and Zhou Pi-Ling missed and Sarina Bolden closed the game and took the Philippines to their first World Cup.

The prize for beating Chinese Taipei, beyond the historic achievement of advancing to the World Cup, is a chance to face South Korea for a place in the final against Japan or China PR, where they will seek to avenge their defeat in 2018.

It will be an interesting match and the Koreans will surely not expect to roll such a tight team this time around.

Having already reached their best ranking of 64th in the world rankings, the Malditas’ rise is set to continue for some time to come.

The dynamism and tenacity shown by the Philippines bodes well for the future and for football, both in the country and in the football world at large.




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