THE FILIPINAS brace for a tough campaign in the second round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Football Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) with Tokyo Games fourth-placer Australia and old rival Chinese-Taipei in their group.
The 49th-ranked Filipinas drew the No. 10 Matildas, No. 37 Chinese Taipei and No. 67 Iran as groupmates in Group A after yesterday’s draw in Kuala Lumpur.
The games will be played in Australia in October with Alen Stajcic’s charges needing to top the group or finish as the best runner-up across the three groups to move forward to the third and final round.
The Filipinas will face two teams they previously encountered in last year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.
The Pinay booters sustained a 0-4 blanking from the Aussies, Mr. Stajcic’s former team, in the group stage. But they went on to advance to the quarterfinals and score a famous 4-3 victory in penalty shootout over the Taiwanese for a trip to the semis and a historic ticket to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The other groups in the OQT feature China, South Korea, Thailand and North Korea in Group B, and Japan, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and India in Group C.
The four survivors of the second round will play in a pair of two-leg matchups in Round 3 with the victors taking the two slots allotted for Asia in Paris 2024. — Olmin Leyba