SAN PEDRO DEL PINATAR, Spain – The results may not have gone their way, but the Philippine Women’s National Team is certainly learning stacking up on knowledge and experience playing in the 2023 Pinatar Cup.
The Filipinas lost to Wales and Scotland via one-goal margins in their first two matches in the competition.
But there have been plenty of encouraging signs as the team, that is preparing for a historic FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in July, heads to its last match against Iceland on Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Manila).
“I think, as time goes on, we’re learning,” said captain Tahnai Annis.
“So even if we take two steps back, and we take a step forward, and maybe a step back, and then a couple of steps forward. So I think as long as we keep going in the direction that we want to, no matter how incremental it might be, I think we’re still progressing. And having a lot of takeaways from each game that we play will help us in the World Cup.”
The Filipinas’ defensive discipline and organization have been impressive in the tournament, although coach Alen Stajcic admits there’s plenty of room for improvement on attack.
The Filipinas did carve out a couple of good opportunities against Scotland, before Meryll Serrano grabbed their first goal of the tournament with a late free kick at the edge of the penalty box.
Iceland poses a big challenge for the Filipinas, coming in as the highest-ranked team in the tournament at No. 16. The Filipinas are ranked No. 53 by FIFA.
Annis is familiar with Iceland’s style of play, having played in the league from 2012 to 2014 before returning to her old club, PolKa, early this year.
“They fit the mold of a European team that is strong, powerful, relentless and very disciplined as well,” Annis said.
“So I think we can expect very similar to Wales and Scotland. But also Iceland has has a lot of experience. They’re one of the smallest countries, but have one of the strongest teams in Europe. So that is a testament to you know how much pride they have and they’re definitely a very cohesive unit.”
Iceland beat Scotland, 2-0, in their Pinatar Cup opener, before being held to a goalless draw by Wales in their second match last Saturday.