Philippines AFC Asian Cup 2022 Preview

-

After a sixth place finish at the previous iteration of the Women’s Asian Cup, the Philippines are looking to go one step further and qualify for the World Cup for the first time.

With new head coach Alen Stajcic at the helm and with the most talented squad in their history, it is shaping up to be an exciting tournament for the Malditas.

Past Asian Cup Performances

After missing out on the knockout stage in their nine previous Women’s Asian Cups, Jordan 2018 was a tournament to remember for the Philippines as they made it all the way to the 5th place play-off.

After defeating Jordan in the first round of the group stage, the Malditas went on to lose to China and Thailand, finishing third in their group.

Embed from Getty Images

In what was ultimately a World Cup deciding match the Philippines couldn’t get the job done, losing 5-0 to a red-hot South Korea. Despite the disappointing final result, it was a tournament that the Malditas could be very proud of.

Road to India

The Philippines were drawn against Hong Kong and Nepal during Asian Cup qualification, with only the group winner at the end of the round robin competition qualifying for the main tournament.

Whilst they successfully won both of their games to qualify, it wasn’t smooth sailing. 90th and 92nd minute goals were needed to defeat Nepal in their first game, whilst an 87th minute winner was required for their match against Hong Kong.

Despite these narrow victories they did enough to book themselves a ticket to the Asian Cup Finals in India.

They’ll make the knockout stages because…

They have an exciting group of players with a proven coach to help them succeed.

Despite their relatively low world ranking the Malditas have experience succeeding in an Asian Cup tournament, having come sixth just four years ago.

Embed from Getty Images

This experience will only help them in this tournament as they look to go one better and qualify for their first ever World Cup.

They are filled to the brim with talent, with the likes of Hali Long, Tahnai Annis, Sarina Bolden and second division Spanish midfielder Eva Madarang all ready to take the tournament by storm.

Pair this with the signing of experienced coaches Alen Stajcic and Nahuel Arrarte, it looks as though this Filipino team is on a collision course with success.

They’ll miss the knockout stages because…

They have not been given a lot of time to adjust to changes in their squad and are up against some of the best teams in Asia.

Whilst they have been in training camp for the past two months in the United States, this team is relatively inexperienced as a group. New head coach Stajcic has not yet had an official game in charge, and will need to assert his style of football on the team early if they are any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Pair this with the fact that they are coming up against the 2nd and 7th ranked Asian teams in their first two match days, they truly do not have much time to get things right on the pitch.

Embed from Getty Images

Even if they do manage to defeat Indonesia in their final group game they are still not guaranteed a place in the knockout stages, with them having to be one of the two best 3rd place finishers.

If things don’t start brightly against Thailand on Friday night, it could be a long tournament for the Philippines.

Key Players

Tahnai Annis.

The Philippines captain will need to play a key role this tournament if her side is any chance of making it out of a tough group. Having joined the team in early 2018 she has been captain ever since, presiding over the squad in their successful 2018 Women’s Asian Cup.

Without her the Malditas may not have even qualified for the tournament, as she scored two crucial goals in one goal wins during qualification.

She has experience playing against the best, having participated in the Women’s European Champions League for former club Þór/KA, and will need to bring all of that to India.

Embed from Getty Images

Inna Palacios.

When trying to find experience in this young Filipino side look no further than their keeper Inna Palacios. The 27-year-old has been a stalwart for the side over the last few years, having captained the team in the absence of Annis.

Having not started any of their 2018 Asian Cup matches, the experienced shot stopper will be keen to finally make her long awaited debut in the competition.

Whilst scoring goals in India will be crucial, stopping them at the other end will arguably be even more important. If the Philippines want to defeat either the Australians or a high-flying Thai side, a solid defence martialled by Palacios is a must.

One to watch

Sarina Bolden.

25-year-old Sarina Bolden burst onto the scene in the 2018 Asian Cup, after only finding herself in the squad after impressing then head coach Richard Boon at an invitational training camp.

Embed from Getty Images

The current club footballer in Japan was able to spoil the party for home side Jordan in her first Asian Cup match, netting a winner in the 76th minute which ultimately led the side out of the group stage.

She has been able to continue this form with the national side, scoring her first hattrick at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games against Malaysia.

With four years extra experience compared to her previous Asian Cup outing, expect big things from the young attacker in India.

Coach

Alen Stajcic.

After having seven head coaches in the last five years, it was decided that the former Matildas and Central Coast Mariners manager Alen Stajcic would be the man to lead the Malditas into the 2022 Women’s Asian Cup.

The Australian comes with some high pedigree, having made it to the final of the two previous iterations of this tournament whilst coaching for now rivals Australia.

Embed from Getty Images

Along with him he brings experienced assistant Nahuel Arrarte, who has been alongside him during his time at the Matildas and Mariners.

Whilst the current squad may not have experience in the later rounds of this tournament, there isn’t anyone in world football likely more equipped to get them there than Stajcic and Arrarte.

Full squad list

Inna Palacios (GK), Olivia McDaniels, Tara-Allison Shelton, Hali Long, Kristen Bugay, Sofia Harrison, Malea Cesar, Kathleen Rodriguez, Jessica Anne Miclat, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Isobel Castañeda, and Chandler McDaniels, Kiara Fontanilla, Dominique Randle, Isabella Flanigan, Katrina Guillo, Sara Bolden, Eva Madarang, and Quinly Quezada, Carleigh Frilles, Keanne Micah Alamo, Morgan Brown, Tahnai Annis (c)

Feature Image Credit: Glenn Pokorny

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

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

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required