On Monday, July 4, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the Philippine women’s football team will play Australia, ranked No. 12 in the world, in the first game of its quest for the first podium finish in the AFF Women’s Championship.
Both teams participated in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 earlier this year, but Australia won’t be fielding any of its seasoned players this time because Matildas head coach Mel Andreatta confirmed that the majority of the players she added for the AFF Women’s Championship 2022 are from the under-23 squad.
Andreatta stated that the entire club is thrilled to be returning to the AFF after a four-year absence, despite entering a youthful team in the contest.
In order to help these youngsters earn experience for the World Cup and next Olympic games in ’23, ’24, and beyond, she added, “for us, it’s continuing to develop the bank of tournament experience for these players and getting those key match minutes at international level.”
We are aiming for the same in this event, and of course, as an Australian squad, we also want to compete and do well alongside that. In the past, many players who participated in AFF went on to experience selection in such tournaments.
Against the Filipinas, Andreatta anticipates “a really competitive tactical game.”
She predicted that the winning team would be the one that competed the hardest, stuck to its plan, and capitalised on its opportunities.
Alen Stajcic, the head coach of the Filipinas, thinks that the Matildas are the tournament favourites because they have a strong and talented team, which gives them a significant edge over the other Southeast Asian teams.
Regardless of who they invited, whether they were under 23s, 24s, or 22s, he stated, “They’ve been one of the stronger nations in the region so no doubt they’re still the favourite for this tournament.”
The majority of the players on Australia’s senior squad made their debuts when they were 16 or 17 years old, according to Stajcic, a former head coach of the Matildas. According to him, “quality on the pitch is actually more important than age.”
The 48-year-old strategist promised not to underrate the young Australian team as the Filipinas try to win their first game in the Aff women’s championship.
“It makes no difference who is outside. I don’t care if someone is 16, 17, 25, or 35 since it’s an international match and every game is played at full strength. It is irrelevant, Stajcic remarked.
“Two nations are competing against one another, and everyone wants to win as well as learn. Therefore, regardless of the opposition, there is no question that we will go into the game seeking to win.
Starting on Monday, the 53rd-ranked Philippines will alternate days playing Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand in Group A.
The Filipinas must place top-two in their group to proceed to the semifinal stage.
The Filipinas have been on a “historic and stratospheric climb” over the last seven months, according to Stajcic, but he wants them to do even better as they aim for a podium position in the AFF Women’s Championship.