Pinatar Cup 2023: The Emergence of the Philippines National Team

Scotland, Wales, Iceland and Philippines released their Pinatar Cup fixtures to be played in February 2023. After a whirlwind 2022, The Filipinas are stars in the making.

The Philippines international team line up for the national anthem
MUMBAI, INDIA - JANUARY 24: Philippines players line up for the national anthem prior to the AFC Women's Asian Cup Group B match between Philippines and Australia at Mumbai Football Arena on January 24, 2022 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

The Philippines national team recently made themselves known in Asia, but their tenacity is yet to really be discovered in the West.

The Filipinas’ magical AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 run saw them reach the semi-finals and qualify for their first ever World Cup. In the summer of the same year, they then went on to conquer Southeast Asia in the AFF Women’s Championships.

Before they travel to Australia and New Zealand in July 2023, they are set to compete in the Pinatar Cup in February in Spain. 

Much is already known about Iceland, Scotland and Wales — who are the other three teams set to appear in the tournament. The three nations boast players like Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir, Erin Cuthbert, and Sophie Ingle as just some of their key players.

While the Philippines might not have many household names in its squad, several players have certainly made a name for themselves. 

Embed from Getty Images

2022 AFC Asian Cup Breakout Stars

Olivia Davies-McDaniel earned herself heroine status at the 2022 AFC Asian Cup. The Californian-born goalkeeper was a solid wall in goal against Thailand in their opening game.

McDaniel made three significant saves in the first half to deny the War Elephants their breakthrough. It was her sister, Chandler McDaniel who scored the winning goal in the 81st minute to cause huge upset for regional giants, Thailand. This earned the Philippines their first ever win against the Thais, after failing in their previous 12 attempts. 

McDaniel once again proved herself in between the sticks in their historic win against Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals. The match ended 1-1 at the end of extra time and was taken to penalties. The goalkeeper denied two out of three penalties taken by Chinese Taipei, and stepped up to the penalty spot herself, converting it successfully.

They went on to the semifinals and with that, booked their ticket to Australia. 

Embed from Getty Images

Katrina Guillou made her first appearance for the national team at the AFC Asian Cup 2022 in their 1-0 victory against Thailand. Guillou was at the end of a cross when she volleyed the ball into the net. The goal was ruled offside, but not too long later she made yet another ambitious attempt.

Fending off her marker and spotting the goalkeeper off her line, she took her aim from just outside the 18-yard box. The ball dipped dangerously but not enough as it clipped the bar instead.

Guillou got her first international goal against Indonesia in the final group stage game. She drew first blood in the fifth minute, smashing the ball into the net.

The Filipinas went on to win 6-0 against their fellow Southeast Asians and secured their spot in the knockouts. In a group that consisted of Thailand, who had already made two World Cup appearances and star-studded Australia, making it out of the group stages was no easy feat.

Philippines was eventually knocked out by a strong South Korean side in the semifinals.  

Embed from Getty Images

AFF Women’s Championship 2022

Southeast Asian teams gathered in the Philippines for the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship in July. The Filipinas ran rampant on home soil and were eventually crowned champions. They edged out defending champions Vietnam in the semifinals before cruising to an easy victory against Thailand in the final.

Embed from Getty Images

Sarina Bolden made her mark in the AFC Asian Cup, but it was the AFF Championships where she truly shined. The forward — who head coach Alen Stajcic described as their talisman — was top scorer after netting eight goals in seven matches.

Bolden was on the scoresheet in their wins against the Australian U23s and Singapore in the group stages. She then got her second international hat-trick in their 4-1 win against Indonesia. The 26-year-old’s heroics booked the Philippines their second consecutive AFF semifinal. 

She did not stop there. Facing title holders Vietnam in the semifinals seemed like a big ask. The Golden Star Women Warriors had topped their group, winning all four games played so far. Spurred on by more than 3,000 fans at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, The Filipinas collected the Vietnamese’s crowns in a 4-0 thumping and brought them to the finals to be played for. It was Bolden once again, whose second half brace sealed the deal. 

Jessika Cowart and Guillou scored the first two goals in the final against the Thais. Just like in almost every win in the tournament, Bolden beat the keeper to secure victory.  

Embed from Getty Images

A historical 2022 and looking ahead to 2023

Last year was one of many firsts for Filipino football, men and women.

The AFF Women’s Championships was the first time the Philippines won a major tournament. The Filipinas’ bronze medal at the Southeast Asian Games was also the country’s first ever football medal. The side’s whirlwind year saw them rise from 64th in 2021 to 53rd in the latest rankings.

While some have argued that the most players were born in America, the pride to represent their strong Filipino heritage on the big stage is clear to see.

They might have surpassed all expectations in 2022, but 2023 will likely be their biggest test yet.

The Pinatar Cup in Spain will be a trial to see how they fair against seasoned footballing nations before flying to Australia and New Zealand to debut on the world stage. 

MORE from Her Football Hub: