Nahuel Arrarte: Philippines are here to win

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When you ask people who their favourites are for the upcoming Women’s Asian Cup, the Matildas, Japan, South Korea, and even China frequent most predictions.

It makes sense, these teams have resumes full of big victories in both this tournament and against the worlds best.

However out of the limelight, preparing in the wings, is a nation that is primed for success. A youthful squad noted to be their best in history with two of the most touted coaches in women’s football.

Whilst they might not be favourites to win the tournament, assistant coach Nahuel Arrarte believes that the Philippines are ready to take it to the best in the bid for an elusive World Cup spot.

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Just four years ago the Malditas were only one game away from qualifying for France 2019 with a crushing 5-0 loss to South Korea ending their most successful Asian Cup run to date.

Since then they have brought in numerous young players who have been developed through the American college system. The emergence of these up and coming players, partnered with the likes of veterans Tahnai Annis and Inna Palacios, has left many calling this squad the best the nation has ever seen.

With a team of the highest potential forming, coaches needed to be brought in to utilise the immense talent.

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After Alen Stajcic and Arrarte became available following their successful stint at the Central Coast Mariners, they were identified as the perfect candidates to take the Philippines to Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

For Arrarte, whilst the end goal is qualifying for the World Cup, he knows that it is crucial that the team take it game by game and are first able to make it out of the group stages.

“Obviously we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. “We know we have a very difficult task ahead with our group,” he said.

The challenge will begin immediately for the Malditas, with their first match being against rivals Thailand.

With only two teams automatically qualifying out of each group and a daunting second match against Australia, Arrarte is aware of the importance of collecting a positive result early.

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“It’s important that we are able to start off well,” he said. “We need to play the best that we can to try and win that game.”

Whilst the Philippines are ranked far lower than both Thailand and Australia, the belief is certainly present in the squad that they can beat either of those teams.

“We know what is in front of us and we are going to approach it with a lot of hard work and dedication,” Arrarte said.

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Whilst lower ranked teams will often play negative, conservative and defensive when coming up against powerhouses of world football, Arrarte is confident that this Philippines team will not be taking that approach.

Instead, in what will be pleasing to hear for neutral fans, they will challenge every team they face head on.

“We are encouraging the girls to go on out there, have a go, back themselves and be really proactive in their approach to playing aggressively,” he said.

“We are going to do our best and go out there with the intention to win games.”

The squad will not be heading into the tough match-ups with a negative mindset, instead believing that they can secure three points in every available fixture.

“We are going to have the mentality to try and win as opposed to trying to simply not lose” he said.

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It feels as though the stars are aligning for this Philippines team heading into India 2022.

They are underestimated by many, have an abundance of both young and experienced talent, and are coached by two men who have a history of success. Whilst Arrarte knows that it won’t be easy, the confidence is there that this tournament can result in something special for the Philippines.

For him the message to the Malditas faithful is simple.

“We want to create a bit of history for the nation.”

The Philippines take on Thailand in their first match this Friday at 11pm AEST, before playing against Australia and Indonesia in their remaining group fixtures.

Feature Image Credit: Philippines women’s football team

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William Makepeace
William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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