Filipinas no longer playing as ‘underdogs’

The Philippine women’s national football team


The Philippine women’s national team will no longer be playing as underdogs when they face a tough battle to move past the first round of the Olympic Qualifiers. 

The Filipinas are kicking off their hectic campaign this year with some European action in the 2023 Pinatar Cup in Spain from Feb. 15 to 21. 

After an eventful 2022 that saw the national team qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and won its first AFF Women’s Championship title, co-captain Hali Long is hoping that the success would translate into a second-round gain of the qualifiers this April. 

“Expectation is such a big, loaded word. Expectation comes with pressure, expectation is when you win. You have everything to lose when you win. I think after such a successful 2022, at least going into the Olympic Qualifiers, we are not the underdog anymore, and I think that’s personally where I feel like we have the biggest struggle as a team when we have expectations when we’re no longer the underdog,” said Long. 

Long and the rest of the team will be assembling for the competition in Spain this week with no expectations of “necessarily winning but growing as a unit.”

The Filipina booters are also incredibly motivated to face Iceland, Wales and Scotland as they are likely the same breed of players in the world meet calendared for July.  

With more than half of the roster currently suiting up for different clubs all over the world, Long is confident in their chances with their lined-up competitions which also include the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia this May. 

After a third-place finish in the previous edition, the Filipinas are seeking the gold medal this year. 

For better or for worse, the national team feels as though the pressure that comes with competing has now become a privilege. 

“We’re all just gonna put our heads down. We all have our programs whether it’s an individual or club. All the work that we need to do to prepare ourselves for Spain. Because Spain is to prepare us obviously for the World Cup. We have big shoes to fill of our own from last year and bring them to this year. So, it will be exciting,” she added.