Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic expects nothing but hardships and trials along the way after finding out their future opponents in the early stage of the FIFA Women's World Cup next year.
The Philippine women's national football team is joined by Norway (No. 12), co-host New Zealand (No. 21) and Switzerland (No. 22) over in Group A.
Though dodging the likes of powerhouses in top-ranked United States of America, Sweden (No. 2), Germany (No. 3), England (No. 4), and France (No. 5), Stajcic believes that regardless of the grouping, the Filipinas should still brace for a certain level of difficulty in the most prestigious stage of football.
"Whatever group we fall into, it was gonna be a tough group," said Stajcic during a short Zoom meeting with the Philippine media over at Auckland, New Zealand after the official draw. "The teams we've got have proven experience in international football so we're gonna have to punch into their way, be competitive and try to win games."
At this point, the Aussie mentor believes that nothing would be easy for the Filipina booters as, obviously, being grouped with nations having much more experience poses a huge threat to the nationals.
New Zealand's Football Ferns, for instance, are set to make their sixth appearance in the World Cup, not to mention that they also competed in the Olympics four times.
Norway, for its part, once made it to the top of the international football scene, having won the World Cup in 1995 and the Olympics in 2000.
Switzerland also copped silver medal in the Olympics back in 1924 and appeared 11 times in the World Cup with two quarterfinal finishes.
"You're playing against teams with proven experience and record at this level," added Stajcic, who steered the Filipinas to a title in the 2022 AFF Women's Championship last July.
"Everyone presents a different challenge and to be honest, I don't think it makes it easier or harder. What it does do is it gives focus, the ability to plan and prepare," he added.
The Filipinas and the Swiss battle each other first on July 21 in Dunedin. Up next for the nationals would be the Kiwis in Wellington on July 26 and against Norway in Auckland on July 30.