SANTIAGO, Chile – Always looking to improve in preparation for FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, the Philippine Women’s National Team plays another friendly against higher-ranked Chile at the Estadio de la Pintana here.
The Filipinas and La Roja Femenina battled to a 1-1 stalemate at Estadio Sausalito in Viña Del Mar last Saturday with captain Hali Long scoring the opener only to be cancelled out by Sonya Keefe’s late header for the home side.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday in the Philippines). Livestream will be available on the PWNT Facebook page and the Philippine Football Federation’s Youtube channel.
It will be the 28th international match of the year for the Filipinas who are ranked No. 53 by FIFA, 15 places lower than Chile.
The Filipinas started the year with an AFC Women’s Asian Cup campaign to remember in India, reaching the semifinals and qualifying for the World Cup before bagging the AFF Women’s Championship last July in Manila.
“The one thing that people should appreciate back home is the work that we’ve put in this year not only on the field but off the field,” said Filipinas coach Alen Stajcic.
“Traveling across the entire planet is never easy and the team keeps backing up, ready to work hard, ready to learn, ready to listen and ready to put their bodies on the line physically and mentally for the country. It’s just been an amazing ride and it’s been impressive to see how we’ve come together as a group, overcoming all the challenges that we had to.”
The Filipinas will be facing tougher challenges next year with the World Cup set starting July 20 in Auckland, New Zealand.
They kick off their World Cup campaign against Switzerland in Dunedin on July 21, before facing the hosts four days later in Wellington. A clash with Norway caps their Group A campaign on July 30.
While precious ranking points are at stake in friendly matches like the one on Tuesday night, Stajcic said gauging the Filipinas’ progress is also crucial with eight months to go before the World Cup.
“We’re always trying to see where we’re at and where we can improve,” he said.
“We know how much we’ve achieved this year and how much we’ve progressed, but we’re never settling for that. We’re always looking to get better individually and throughout the whole squad.”
After a generally solid defensive performance in the first match, the Filipinas hope they can figure out a way to pick up a victory against a formidable team that qualified for the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and boasts of the top goalkeeper in the world in Christiane Endler.
“Definitely they (Chile) are tough on the tackles and they like playing with the ball so I think we had to prepare extra for that,” said striker Katrina Guillou. “I know we won’t have a lot of time on the ball. They were good with give and gos and running in behind but I think it also played to our advantage (in the first match). We did have some balls in behind and that gave us a bit more confidence. We were ready to pick off some of their passes and we knew they were ready to build in the middle and I think we were ready for that.”
Chile is also using the match to prepare for the continental playoff tournament in New Zealand early next year.
The team is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, MVP Sports Foundation and team manager Jeff Cheng.