Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep and eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.
Take a look at 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup debutants, The Philippines.
FIFA Women's World Cup appearances: 0
Best Performances in a FIFA Women's World Cup: N/A
Players to watch
Sarina Bolden should be a name familiar with A-League Women fans. The striker signed for Western Sydney midway through last season and her impact revitalized the club’s season. Bolden is the all-time leading scorer for the national team, but her value is more than what shows on the stats sheet.
The centre forward is adept at occupying defenders and making space for other players in attack. She is dangerous in the air and highly mobile. The Philippines has an experienced, dangerous striker to lead the line, who can inspire hope and keep their opponents guessing.
In midfield, Jaclyn Sawicki is a star in and along with Tahani Annis who will provide the midfield with creativity and composure.
The Philippines has had strong form in 2023. The side have thrashed Pakistan, Tajikistan and Hong Kong in Olympic qualifying. Over those three games, the Filipinas have scored 16 goals while conceding none. Against stronger opposition they have struggled. Close losses to Scotland (2-1) and Wales (1-0) were followed by a 5-0 defeat to Iceland.
Alen Stajcic’s team has prepared for the World Cup with the Southeast Asian Games. At the time of writing, The Philippines won its first two games 1-0 against Myanmar and Malaysia, but have been unconvincing in general play. A 2-1 win over Vietnam was not enough to get The Philippines out of the group when it needed three goals as a minimum.
These results did show that the Filipinas are competitive, and they are a cohesive team. They achieved the remarkable by making the semi-finals of the 2022 Asian Cup to qualify for this tournament and cannot be taken lightly. But in a group with Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand, The Philippines will need to be at its best to get out of the group. Even then, the team may need a little luck.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths: When in form, The Philippines has scoring power. In the Group Stage of the 2022 Asian Cup, the team scored seven times with six different players finding the net. They are well organized, and with many players having come through the US College system, are well versed in dealing with pressure.
In defence, Olivia McDaniel has been a real find by Stajcic. The American-born goalkeeper was superb during the Asian Cup. She saved three penalties and scored one herself to send her side through to the World Cup.
The Philippines has a consistent line up and a cohesive game plan. That makes the team slightly predictable at the top level, and defeating Norway may be a bridge too far, but getting results against Switzerland and New Zealand is not impossible.
Weaknesses: In recent times, the Filipinas have struggled to break down deep sitting defenses, their inability to break down opposition in the recent matches seemed to frustrate fans as much as players. However, they did grind out results and it feels unlikely that any of their World Cup opponents will choose a defence-first game plan against them.
One area of concern is that Myanmar outplayed The Philippines for long periods of its game. The Philippines cannot afford to have any lapses in form at The World Cup, and hopefully these performances will be shrugged off or worked on, but this close to the tournament, it is concerning.
The team's qualification was incredible, their players are good, but their preparation has been less than convincing. The odds are against The Philippines making it out of the group, but that will not bother the side at all. The odds were against them getting this far. Their very presence is making history.
The Philippines has a tough task ahead, a win would be amazing, and getting out of the group would be spectacular. A draw or two would be a pass mark with honours.