It's not a secret that the Philippine women's national football team will enter the FIFA Women's World cup next week as underdogs. But that doesn't mean that the history-makers will walk in the tournament to claim their participation medal. No, the Filipinas are out to shock the world.
For sure, coach Alen Stajcic has already formulated a battle plan to give the Filipinas their best chance to make more history. Co-captain Hali Long also asured that the national team is ready heading into the much-anticipated debut.
For former team captain turned analyst and sports commentator Marielle Benitez, there's one particular aspect of the game that could make or break the Filipinas against the giants of the world.
"We would have to be very solid on defense. Playing up against Switzerland who's 26th in the world, Norway who's 12th in the world, and even New Zealand [the] host and 20th in the world," Benitez said in an interview with One Sports' The Game.
"You're going up against teams who are very experienced, who are probably physically strongers and taller. You need a solid backline to be able to counter or to be able to move the ball forward."
Tasked to carry the defensive load for the Filipinas are Long herself together with Alicia Barker, Angela Beard, Reina Bonta, Malea Cesar, Jessika Cowart, Sofia Harrison, and Dominique Randle. Benitez is optimistic with that group.
"With the selection, there's a lot of focus on a solid defense and then you have a midfield that has been tried and tested where we can really be fast for counter attacks."
The Filipinas, who received a warm welcome in New Zealand, will start their FIFA Women's World Cup bid on July 21, Friday, against Switzerland.