SYDNEY, Australia – Already on a historic run this year, the Philippine Women’s National Team looks to cap the year on a positive note as they face Papua New Guinea in the first of two friendly matches on Sunday at Western Sydney Wanderers Park in Sydney.
Coming off a trip to South America last month when they played Chile twice, the Filipinas take on a Papua New Guinea side that is two places higher in the latest FIFA rankings at No. 51.
The two countries play again on Thursday in the same venue.
With the matches not falling on the international window, coach Alen Stajcic only had three training sessions in the lead-up to the clash with the Oceania side that is preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup continental playoffs in February.
The Filipinas have already qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup with a semifinal finish in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India last January.
Their incredible year continued in Vietnam in May when they captured a bronze medal in the Southeast Asian Games, before delivering a first ever major football title for the country by ruling the AFF Women’s Championship in July in Manila.
Stajcic welcomed the challenge of facing another higher-ranked opponent.
“These matches are critical for us to keep developing our patterns of play and principles, especially with the ball,” said Stajcic.
The friendly matches against PNG will be the 29th and 30th matches for the Filipinas’ monumental year that included beating regional powerhouse teams Thailand and Vietnam and wins against a European team in Bosnia Herzegovina.
The Filipinas, whose current ranking of No. 53 is also their highest, also picked up draws in their trips to Central America against Costa Rica in San Jose and South America against Chile in Santiago.
The match against the Filipinas will also be the first game in charge for new PNG coach Spencer Prior, who coached Thailand to the 2016 AFF Women’s Championship crown and a silver medal in the Southeast Asian Games in 2017.
The Filipinas are supported by team manager Jeff Cheng, the Philippine Sports Commission and the MVP Sports Foundation.