- The Philippines made their first-ever World Cup appearance with their women’s team
- PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes confirms all players will be fighting for their places
- Haiti, Morocco, Panama and four other countries will also make their debuts at a Women’s World Cup
The Philippines booked their first-ever appearance at a World Cup through their women’s national soccer team, but no one is certain of their place regardless of their performances.
The International Business Times spoke to the general secretary of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), Atty. Edwin Gastanes during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour at Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City, Philippines.
“We have no idea who the final 23 will be. I know for sure that we have about 33-36 players in the pool. No one is sure where his place is there. They’re all competing, fighting for their positions,” Gastanes said.
“I think some of the veterans will be there and some of the new ones as well,” he later added, pushing for a definitive answer.
The Philippines women’s national soccer team, better known by their nickname ‘Filipinas’, secured their place in the global soccer tournament after reaching the semi-finals of the 2022 Asian Cup, where they defeated Thailand, Indonesia and Chinese Taipei before eventually qualifying South Korea fell.
With their spot secured, the Filipinas focused on the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship, where they took home the trophy for the first time by beating Southeast Asian rivals Thailand 3-0 in the final.
Gastanes, 64, has been Secretary General of the PFF since February 15, 2013 and has witnessed all the lows that have led to the current upward trajectory that Filipinas and Filipino football in general have embarked upon.
“We planned and hoped for that six or seven years ago and kept pushing. We used our resources properly, acquired sponsors and individuals and only focused on qualifying for the World Cup. We are blessed by God that our team is here. It is our gift to the Filipino nation and Filipinos abroad,” Gastanes told IBTimes.
Looking ahead to the challenges that await them on football’s biggest stage, Gastanes acknowledged their players’ signings with their international clubs are their biggest hurdle at the moment, but they plan to address this by traveling to New Zealand two weeks before the start the women’s world cup.
The Philippines will not be alone in their first debut as they will be joined by Haiti, Morocco, Panama, Portugal, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 takes place from July 20th to August 20th with matches in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide in Australia and in the New Zealand cities of Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Hamilton