LUPANG Hinirang, the Philippine national anthem, will finally be played in the World Cup of football on Friday, July 21.
This historic moment will usher the country's participation in the world's most prestigious women's football event.
No Philippine team — at any gender or age — has ever played in the FIFA-organized World Cup until the Filipinas qualified for the event last year.
The Philippines open its campaign against Switzerland at the Dunedin Stadium in New Zealand.
Game time is 1 p.m. on Friday (Manila time).
The Philippine women's football team is ranked 46th in the world and looking for an upset victory against the Swiss who are ranked 26 notches higher at No. 20.
Local fans can watch the PH-Switzerland game through free TV channel One Sports or through the Pilipinas Live app.
The Philippines will next face New Zealand on July 25 and Norway on July 30.
The Filipinas qualified for the 2023 World Cup after making the semifinals of the Women's Asian Cup in January last year following a dramatic penalty shootout win over Taiwan in the quarterfinals, 4-3 (1-1).
Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic, the man behind the team's meteoric rise in the football world, said that the national team will put up its best fight in this month-long tournament.”I'm really proud of everyone for their collective effort and now it's time to go to the biggest women's sporting event in the world and try to do the best that we can,” said the Australian coach.
“It really is a magical moment for the country and we hope that everyone is proud of the fight that we're going to show in those games.”
The Swiss team is led by veterans Ramona Bachmann and Fabienne Humm.
The 23-strong Philippine team, on the other hand, will rely heavily on team captain Tahnai Annis and co-captain Hali Long, who play the midfielder and defender positions, respectively.Joining Annis in the midfield positions are Ryley Bugay, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Eggesvik, Quinley Quezada, and Jaclyn Sawicki, while Long shares the defender duties with Alicia Barker, Angela Beard, Reina Bonta, Malea Cesar, Jessika Cowart, Sofia Harrison, and Dominique Randle.
Ace striker Sarina Bolden will lead the forwards alongside Isabella Flanigan, Carleigh Frilles, Katrina Guillou, Chandler McDaniel, and Meryll Serrano, as Oliva McDaniel banners the goalie position with Kiara Fontanilla and Kaiya Jota.
Inna Palacios, Maya Alcantara and Isabella Pasion are on the reserve list.
The Filipinas arrived in New Zealand on July 10 after a month-long training camp in Australia, which co-hosts the 2023 Women's World Cup. They had their last friendly game on July 17 when they absorbed a 1-5 setback against world No. 3 Sweden.
“It's about to be game time so we really have to remember all the little details we've been taught along this 18 month journey,” said Long.
“We have done all of our fine tuning but it's finally time to prove and show what we're made of.”
This is the first Women's World Cup to feature 32 teams. The last it was held four years ago in France, the tournament features 24 countries.
The United States is aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive title and a record-extending fifth overall. The Americans begin their title defense against Vietnam on Saturday.The expansion of the Women's World Cup also came with an increased prize money with the total pot raised from $50 million in 2019 to a record $152 million this year.
However, it still pales in comparison with the $440 million total purse at the 32-team men's World Cup in Qatar last year.
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