The Philippine women’s football team is confident of its chances of making the next round of the Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament that began on Wednesday in Tajikistan.
But coach Alen Stajcic was also cautious of the challenges the Filipinas will face even if they are the prohibitive favorites to top Group B.
“The Olympics is a massive event and we’ve never been to the final group stage ever before, so trying to top this group and getting out of this group is a difficult assignment,” Stajcic said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and we’re confident we can get to the next round.”
The massive quest to make the Paris Games began for the Filipinas at Hisor Central Stadium at press time against Pakistan, a team that Stajcic is not taking lightly.
“Pakistan has just resumed playing recently and obviously they are emerging and developing and an unknown threat,” said Stajcic. “We don’t know how good they are. There’s always a little bit of anxiety because you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
The Filipinas will next face Tajikistan on Saturday before wrapping up the first round with a familiar foe in Hong Kong on April 12.
Hong Kong faced the Philippines in the Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers in 2021, with the Filipinas scraping out a 2-1 victory in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“Tajikistan is in a similar boat [as Pakistan]. They’re both unknowns in international football, but are starting to really emerge and develop as national teams. We’ve got to respect those countries because we don’t know what kind of game we’ll have until we actually get in there. In that respect, this makes it a difficult challenge,” Stajcic said.
“And It was only 18 months ago that we scraped to a 2-1 win (over Hong Kong) to qualify for the Asian Cup, we have to treat them with a lot of respect,” said Stajcic. “That’s going to be a tough battle, it could have easily been Hong Kong making it to the Asian Cup so we know that it was going to be a tricky assignment.”
The top team in the group will make the second round where competition is expected to be fiercer against the traditional heavyweights in the Asian region.
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