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Filipinas battle Welsh heavyweights

The national women’s football team faces a major test when it battles Wales in the opening salvo of its Pinatar Cup campaign on Thursday morning (Manila time) at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar in Murcia, Spain.

Action kicks off at 3:30 a.m. with the Filipinas tipped to gain massive experience against the powerful Welsh, who are at No. 32 in the latest International Football Federation ranking.

Filipinas goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel said they are pumped up to begin their Pinatar Cup journey as it will enable them to prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2023 that will be held in Australia and New Zealand this August.

She said battling the likes of Safia Middleton-Patel and Hayley Ladd of Manchester United, Rhiannon Roberts and Ceri Holland of Liverpool, Sophie Ingle of Chelsea and the powerhouse Welsh side will also help them get familiarized with the European style of play.

Aside from Wales, the Filipinas will also face Scotland and Iceland in the Pinatar Cup.

“It’s been fun being back with the team. We had a little break and it’s been really nice,” said McDaniel, who are grouped with Norway, Switzerland and co-host New Zealand in the World Cup.

“We’ve been going over films and getting to know how they play. It’s very exciting, these teams are highly ranked above us but it will give us a good feel of the teams that we will play in the World Cup.”

With quality players such as Inna Palacios, Hali Long, Katrina Guillou and Sarina Bolden, Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic admitted that picking the right players for the World Cup will be harder so they have to compete in more friendly matches.

After the Pinatar Cup, the Filipinas will also play in the first round of the Olympic qualifiers this April before going to Cambodia for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games
“We now have a pool of about 30 to 35 players. The toughest part of this journey is gonna be that 10 to 12 players who have been with the squad and have been a part of the regular squad are not gonna be selected for the World Cup,” Stajcic said in a previous report.

“I think we’ve seen during the course of the year, regardless of who’s playing, you’ll see the same mentality, the same philosophy, the same motivation and drive from the players and, to a certain extent, the level of performance. I’m really proud that we’ve got to that level.”

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