A 5-0 LOSS to the 16th-ranked Iceland capped the Philippine Women’s National Football Team’s campaign in the 2023 Pinatar Cup in Murcia, Spain.
The defeat was the heaviest suffered by the Filipinas in the four-nation tournament featuring many of the best soccer players in Europe. The Philippines opened the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Wales and 2-1 defeat at the hands of Scotland.
While our hopes are always high whenever our national teams compete–whether the Azkals, the Filipinas or whoever is carrying the cudgels for the stars and the sun—there is always that reality that gives us the nastiest bite.
True to form, Iceland gave us a peek of what a really strong team with excellent conditioning, skills and experience can do against a squad still trying to find its way to compete against bigger, better and stronger opponents.
The 5-0 was a beatdown, no way to sugarcoat it. Aside from the difficulty of spelling and pronouncing their names, the Stelpurnar okkar (Our Girls) really did their job, came prepared and all business in making life miserable for the Filipinas where it matteee most: in the pitch. Iceland’s athleticism was on another level and far superior, collectively as a team. They almost have it all. Skills, technique, imposing physical presence, etc.
The list would go on. But then again, the losses would mean a lot more if the Filipinas didn’t learn anything in competing in another level, a different level, wherein you get what you bargained for, where the disparity between a good team against an excellent one, is very apparent.
We may have racked up three losses, but will go home with lots of lessons learned, tons of takeaways and the experience that hopefully will help the team win a point or two, where and when it really counts.
Which I believe was the real purpose of going to Spain and playing in the Pinatar Cup was all about.
Coach Alen Stajcic made it clear that competing in the tournament will serve as the gauge where our team is at. For that alone, mission was accomplished. Earning a point, a draw and an unlikely win, given the caliber and fitness of the opposition, were just bonuses.
You still made us proud Filipinas. Chin up! Rest for a few days, ponder on what happened, on what could be improved up, attend to personal matters for a few days or simply relax for a bit. Then go back to work. While it is running short, there is still time.
Our Philippine Azkals will apparently have two friendlies next month. Despite no official announcement yet from the Philippine Football Federation, the Azkals will face Kuwait on the 24th, then will fly to Doha, Qatar to face Jordan.
At least the match against Kuwait is confirmed after its football association formally announced the game against the Philippines. From what I have heard, the game against Jordan is yet to be confirmed but nevertheless, it is still good news to know something about the team. That despite being out of the limelight, there is something to look forward to with the squad lost in the accomplishments of their female counterparts.
“The process of rebuilding the Azkals will continue with these friendlies. It will not be easy (the process), but we are optimistic that the tuneup games put the team in the right direction,” Dan Palami, Azkals’ Team Manager, said.
Palami added that the team is looking forward to playing their first match after failing to advance past the group of the Mitsubishi Electric Cup early this year.
“A lot of players have responded positively with the invitation to join the training pool for the Kuwait and the Jordan friendlies. We are looking forward to having a strong team against them,” Palami added.
Palami said they have invited 25-30 Azkals playing in and out of the country to join the squad the Middle East. He said they are finalizing the list once all needed details and information are at hand.
While The Designated Kit Man is not at liberty, yet, to disclose who were invited, the list looks very promising. I saw several big and familiar names playing in leagues in Europe and in Southeast Asia. A number of young ones are also in the squad. I just hope they could all make it.
Please don’t forget to watch and tune in this Sunday, February 12, 2023 from 2-3 p.m. for another interesting discussion at 3PTS–Pambansang Tambayan ng Sports over DZME 1530 KHZ. Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games veteran and now professional boxer Charly Suares plus another guest or two, will join us in the show.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at erel_ca[email protected] or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat