February 21, 2024

Group A underdogs? An overview of Filipinas’ group phase foes in FIFA Women’s World Cup

Group A underdogs? An overview of Filipinas’ group phase foes in FIFA Women’s World Cup
Art by Royce Nicdao

Fans are set to see plenty of new things in this year’s edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The ninth iteration of this world-class tournament is welcoming 32 teams in the fold, the most national delegations to join ever. Eight of those 32 squads, including the Philippines, are making their debut and will see action in the tilt for the first time.

It’s also the first time that two countries, Australia and New Zealand, will jointly host the event.

Even if it sucks to say this, this may also be the first time for many Filipinos to not just see the Philippine women’s national football team, but to watch top-caliber women’s national teams on the pitch.

In the spirit of inclusion and rallying support behind the Filipinas, here’s a preview of the Pinay footballers' competition in Group A for the preliminary phase.

Do what you want with this information, just make sure those plans do not include kulam.

Teams in Group A

  • Switzerland (FIFA world ranking: 20)
  • New Zealand (FIFA world ranking: 26)
  • Norway (FIFA world ranking: 12)
  • Philippines (FIFA world ranking: 46) 

Among the eight groups, Group A is not exactly getting scary nicknames like Group of Death, but still, this IS the most prestigious stage in women’s football—and there will be no giveaway matches.

While some may be happy with the 46th-ranked Philippines just making it to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, coach Alen Stajcic and the ladies have been hard at work in their preps and they don’t plan on settling for moral victories.

But who­ exactly are they going up against?

Norway


Let’s start off with the highest ranked and the favorite to top the group, Norway. When we speak of the Norwegian footballers, remember one name: Ada Hegerberg.

The New York Times wrote that Norway is one of those teams that “arrive with the big stars.” Because Hegerberg is just that. To better understand her stardom, below is Ada starring in a Nike commercial.

“Bring me everyone,” the opposing coach in the ad said. To stop the UEFA Women’s Champions League all-time leading scorer in real game action, you really just might need everyone.

There are questions, however, surrounding Ada’s health status. But the Norwegians, victors at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup and semifinalists in the 1999 and 2007 editions, have a strong foundation.

It’s understood that those milestones come from a while back, so expect Norway to be hungry in reestablishing their names in the scene.  

Switzerland


The Swiss are just one step ahead of the Philippines—in terms of World Cup stints. They made their first appearance in 2015, when they reached the round of 16. After missing the 2019 edition, Switzerland is back with an experienced core that may just make noise.

The world rankings might show they may just take that second slot in Group A and advance to the next round, but pundits are not saying that as a given. After all, they were eliminated early in the 2022 UEFA Euro.

Inka Grings, a German football icon, took over the 20th-ranked team this year and is ready to make a difference. Grings broke barriers in Germany by becoming the first female coach in various men’s football leagues. As a player, she was HER. She scored 64 goals in her international appearances for Germany, while also scoring a record 314 goals in the Women’s Bundesliga.

Grings also has one reliable player in forward Ramona Bachmann, who has 131 caps and 57 goals for the country, which is good for third and second all-time, respectively. 

New Zealand


Playing on home soil gives all kinds of advantages for New Zealand, not that it’s unfair. The world number 26 Kiwis have proven their worth as they played in five FIFA Women’s World Cups in the past.

The criticism? They have yet to score a win in all of that history. They look to finally bury that past and score a victory in front of the home crowd.

The Football Ferns are finding their footing under manager Jitka Klimklova, who arrived in 2021. The gaffer has always promised a team that plays to win, which translates to a team that can surprise anyone.

They also have in tow their captain Ali Riley, who is competing in her fourth World Cup. And oh, she also has four Olympic stints under her belt.

Philippines

This piece is really for the Filipinas’ competition, but we’re giving space for them, nonetheless.

There are at least nine reasons why the Filipinas are the real deal, and to be honest, that’s really undercutting it. The Filipinas roster had a strong, history-making 2022 on their way to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and they are not stopping there just yet.

Led by revered Australian football coach Alen Stajcic, the Filipinas have been in an 18-month journey that leads to this—the grandest stage in women’s football.

Expect the likes of Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada to take keep threatening the goal box. The squad also has multiple goalkeepers who can deliver clean sheets. And forwards and defenders ready to give out their all to dominate possessions and bring the wins.

That’s a lot of links in a few paragraphs because that’s just how good these ladies are. And they need our support.

If you feel like you are late to the party, don’t fret, read up, and prepare your lungs to shout out their names.

TARA. Let’s go, Filipinas!