Football: PH women's team grouped with powerhouse Australia in AFC Asian Cup

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 28 2021 04:36 PM | Updated as of Oct 28 2021 04:59 PM

The Philippine women's national football team. Photo courtesy of the PFF.
The Philippine women's national football team. Photo courtesy of the PFF.

(UPDATED) The Philippine women's national football team has been grouped with two Southeast Asian rivals and a global powerhouse in the group stage of the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup in India.

In the draw ceremony held Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Filipinas were drawn into Group B, together with neighboring Indonesia and Thailand, as well as Australia, a team ranked 11th in the world.

Football: PH women's team grouped with powerhouse Australia in AFC Women's Asian Cup

Thailand is ranked 39th in the world, while the Philippines is 68th, and Indonesia is 92nd.

Host India is in Group A along with China, Chinese-Taipei, and Iran. Defending champion Japan is in Group C along with South Korea, Vietnam, and Myanmar. 

This will be the Philippines' second straight appearance in the AFC Women's Asian Cup, after topping Group F of the qualifiers in late September with wins over Nepal and Hong Kong.

Set to coach the team in the Asian Cup is Alen Stajcic, the former coach of the Australian women's national football team. Stajcic steered the Matildas to the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cups, as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I knew that Australia would somehow fall in my group, in our group," said Stajcic. "It's an interesting tournament. It's the first time it's gone to 12 teams. It's gonna present different challenges for different teams, and an extra match as well."

"The good part for now is, we now know who we play, and we can really focus on targeting that first match, and making sure we're ready to go when we get to India," he added.

The team is set to hold a training camp and player tryouts in Irvine, California from November 10 until January 15.

The top two teams of each group as well as two of the three best third-placed teams will advance to the knockout quarterfinals. At stake in the continental event are five slots to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, which Australia is co-hosting with New Zealand. 

The AFC Women's Asian Cup is from January 20 to February 6.

Stajcic is upbeat of the Filipinas' chances to secure one of the spots at stake.

"We've got a good team," he stressed. "The last three or four years, and the last Asian Cup, they showed that they can compete with all the countries in the world."

"If we can keep improving and working hard in the next two, three months, I'm very confident that we can seal one of those berths in the World Cup."