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The bumpy and historic journey of the Philippine national women's football team to the FIFA Women's World Cup

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 31, 2022 3:21 pm Updated Jan 31, 2022 3:26 pm

The Philippine national women's football team after qualifying for the world's biggest football competition for the very first time ever. For a country like the Philippines that's just starting to make a global mark in the sports, securing this historic date with destiny has been many years in the making.

The Filipina squad, who also calls themselves "Malditas," is the first Philippine team of any gender to clinch a spot at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, after overpowering Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup in India.

The country's road to this sweet and historic victory, like many others, has been a bumpy one.

The Philippines debuted in the tournament in 1981, when the AFC Women's Asia Cup was then called AFC Women's Championship. It tried its chances again in 1983, before skipping the next three editions in 1986, 1989, and 1991.

From 1993 to 2003, the Malditas joined the cup but never made it past the group stages. With the country failing to qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1995 and 1999, it also meant missing the 1996 and 2000 Olympics as world cup standings were taken into account for a ticket to the summer games.

In 2006, when qualifiers were introduced and the AFC Women's Championship was renamed to the AFC Women's Asia Cup, the country still fell short, even up to the 2008 and 2014 editions. It also skipped the 2010 cup.

There was a semblance of hope, however, when the Philippine team qualified for the AFC Women's Asia Cup 2018 in Jordan. It progressed beyond the group stage for the first time.

But the national team settled for third in the group stage behind China and Thailand. During the knockout stage for the fifth place for a final bid to qualify at the 2019 FIFA World Cup, it took a beating from South Korea, settling for sixth in the competition.

As for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women's Championship, the Philippines has competed since its inception in 2004, save for the 2006 edition.

From 2004 to 2018, like its Asian Cup experience, the country hasn't progressed beyond the group stage. It only managed to end its dry spell in 2019, when it advanced to the semifinals for the very first time.

The team settled for fourth place in the AFF tourney.

During the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, where the Philippines was the host country, the team was denied a podium finish after losing to Myanmar in the bronze medal match. They ended up fourth in the biennial meet.

In the 1985 SEA Games hosted by Thailand, the country settled for bronze and clinched its first and only podium finish. But there were only three participating teams, the others being Thailand and Singapore, and the Philippines had been winless.

Fast forward to 2022, the national team just beat the odds and wrote one for the books. They're hoping to add another milestone as they play South Korea in the semifinals on Feb. 3.