Filipina The Filipinas during their successful AFF Women’s Championship run. AFF photo

Massive challenge for Pinays

September 5, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 531 views

THE Philippines’ international friendly with New Zealand will be a “massive challenge” for coach Alen Stajcic.

The Football Ferns are currently ranked 22nd in the world, and the Filipinas need to unleash their A-game in their first outing since winning the AFF Women’s Championship last July.

“They’re probably the toughest opponent we’ll play this year after the Asian Cup,” said Stajcic during an early morning online press conference yesterday.

The Philippines-New Zealand match is set at 5 p.m. (California local time) on Tuesday (8 a.m., Manila time on Wednesday) at the Titan Stadium inside the Cal State Fullerton campus.

The 27-strong roster which includes goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel, forwards Sarina Bolden, Quinley Quezada, Katrina Gillou and Bela Flanigan, midfielders Tahnai Annis, Sara Eggesvik, Carleigh Frilles and Jessica Miclat, and defenders Hali Long, Malea Cesar, Jessica Cowart, Eva Madarang and Dom Randle.

Olivia McDaniel’s sister, Chandler McDaniel, who missed the AFF tournament last July due to injury, was also included in the line-up against the Football Ferns.

At least four new players, midfielders Reinna Gabriel, Merryl Serrano, goalkeeper Kaiya Jota and defender Reina Bonta, were called up for the team’s current camp in Irvine, California.

Stajcic said that the newcomers have “done really well,” and are fitting in with the team, while Chandler McDaniel is “progressing well” but is still a long way off from actually returning to competition. ”

As for future windows, the Filipinas schedule for the rest of 2022 is pretty much set but have yet to be publicly announced and they are already working on next year’s plans as well leading up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Stajcic assured that “the door is never closed” as far as adding new players into the national team pool for the world’s biggest football showcase.

“Anyone who puts their hand up for selection. I’m more than willing to have a look at that person and give that person an opportunity,” said Stajcic.