Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta Jr. is lining up more international friendly matches for the Filipinas, the newly-crowned AFF Women’s Championship queens, to boost their FIFA world ratings higher for a better draw in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup scheduled in October.
“The draw will be in October that is why we are trying to schedule more games for the Filipinas against opponents that are higher than us in the rankings so they, hopefully, will also improve their ratings,” said Araneta during the Philippine Sportswriters Association online Forum on Tuesday.
On the way to winning the country’s historic first major international football title, the charges of Australian Alen Stacjic toppled Asian football titans Australia, Vietnam and Thailand, which are ranked Nos. 12, 32 and 43, respectively.
By beating their higher-rated rivals, the Filipinas, currently ranked 53rd, can expect marked improvement once the latest ratings are out, which Araneta said would give the side a better spot in the World Cup draw barely three months away.
“Coach Alen told me that we only need four to eight points to go from the fourth to the third pot. This will help the Filipinas avoid facing the heavyweights early in the tournament,” the football chief explained.
“There has been an invitation from World Cup qualifier Costa Rica to play in Costa Rica and another from New Zealand. Those friendlies are now on the pipeline” bared Araneta.
The Kiwis and Costa Ricans are presently ranked Nos. 22 and 37, respectively, in the FIFA rankings.
Also present in in the session backed by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, Unilever, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), were national team members Inna Palacios, Hali Long, and Camille Rodriguez.
They shared their own experiences over how the highly-successful stint had impacted them personally.
“What I learned is that our victory showed that we can do it. Na kaya namin. I am also grateful for having been a part of the journey of this national team, seeing it from its lowest then getting better and better to reaching our highest potential at the moment,” Palacios noted.
Long, who has been with the team since 2015 and has suited up for them 61 times, said the Filipinas ‘showed a lot of heart. This is a first, history and history at home. It took a lot of heart to accomplish this (milestone) and will remain in our hearts forever.’
Rodriguez shared her teammates’ sentiments, saying: “What we were able to do here is really special. Special to do it at home and for your country. Special to know that you know your love ones were out there in the stands supporting us.”
In front of 8,275 animated fans, the energized Filipinas completed their fairy tale run in trouncing four-time champion Thailand, 3-0, to bag not only the country’s first major football championship, but also rekindle national interest in the ‘beautiful game.’
Araneta said this was just like what their male counterparts, the Azkals, did in reaching the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals for the first time in 2010.
“As a former national player I take pride in what they (the Filipinas) have done. My hats off to them,” said Araneta, beaming with joy.