The Filipinas face an acid test when they take on the U23 team of Australia in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship Monday night, July 4 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Philippine women’s national football team is set to showcase the result of its recent friendlies against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Ireland, with its opening assignment taking center stage in front of the Filipino home crowd at 7 p.m.
The Filipina booters, coached by Aussie mentor Alen Stajcic, are bracketed in Group A along with Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia while Group B is composed of 2019 champion Vietnam, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, and Laos.
Singapore and Malaysia also clash in their 4 p.m. encounter in the same venue while Indonesia and Thailand collide at 7 p.m. as well over at Binan Football Stadium in Laguna.
The AFF Women’s Championship stint also serves as one of the major preparations for the Filipinas’ debut in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I’ve always got one eye on the World Cup and that is the big picture… I’m looking forward to this team growing into the next five, six, seven years,” said Stajcic in a recent press conference.
“We do have one eye on the World Cup but look, the short term is very important. It’s a tough group we [are in], probably got the toughest team[s] in the tournament in the first game [against] Australia.”
In the 2019 edition, the Philippines had its best performance so far with a fourth place finish after absorbing a 3-0 loss against Myanmar in the battle-for-third.
Thailand remains the winningest team in the competition after its three-peat run from 2015 to 2018.
The Filipinas, led by the likes of Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada, among others, are also fresh from a historic bronze medal finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, ending the country’s 37-year-old medal drought in the regional biennial meet.