FULLERTON, California – The Philippine Women’s National Team face a stern test to cap its 13-day training camp as the Filipinas clash with New Zealand in an international friendly at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium here.
Ranked 53rd in the world by FIFA, the Filipinas are heavy underdogs against the Football Ferns who are 31 places ahead of the reigning AFF Women’s Championship winners.
Kickoff is at 5 p.m. local time (8 a.m. Philippine time). The match will be available on livestream via the Philippine Women’s National Team Facebook and the PFF Youtube channel.
Filipinas coach Alen Stajcic believes the match against the Football Ferns will give his team just the challenge it needs as they continue their buildup to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
“It’s a massive challenge (as) they have been together longer as a national team and have players playing around the world in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and USA,” said Stajcic.
“They definitely got a lot of pedigree as a team. They’ve improved over the years and they’re going to be a tough opponent. They’re probably the toughest opponent we will face this year after the Asian Cup.”
The match will actually mark the first time the Filipinas are playing an international friendly on North American soil. During the June international window, the Filipinas played in Europe for the first time, narrowly losing to the Republic of Ireland, 0-1, in Antalya, Turkey, before winning two matches against Bosnia Herzegovina in Slovenia as part of the buildup to the AFF
Stajcic will have the core of his AFF Women’s Championship team available for selection against the Football Ferns with the likes of Europe-based Katrina Guillou, Quinley Quezada, Jessica Cowart and Sara Eggesvik all in the camp. AFF Women’s Championship top scorer Sarina Bolden, who plays for Chifure AS Elfen Saitama, is also in the squad.
It’s been a historic year so far for the Filipinas, having qualified for the World Cup, winning bronze in the Southeast Asian Games, before the AFF Women’s Championship triump.
“We grow every game we have the basic set of principles in every game but we adjust and evolve and try different things and if you watch the games in the AFF, a lot of players know their roles and their responsibilities,” said Stajcic.
“We tweak our tactics to suite our opponents and we’ll do it against New Zealand. Not every game is the same not every opponent is the same and again on top of those other things we will be playing on a day that will probably be somewhere between 30-35 degrees when we kick off. We have to be smart and play to our strengths and see if we can exploit some vulnerabilities in the opposition.”