Photo from AFC

The national women’s football team aims to take its first crack at making the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time when it faces Taiwan Sunday, Jan. 30 in the quarterfinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.

Expectations are high going into the 10 p.m. Manila time encounter as the Pinay booters look to secure a place in the FIFA’s showpiece event at the expense of their Taiwanese counterparts.

Coach Alen Stajcic is bracing for what could be a tight affair with high stakes on the line.

“I think there’s pressure for both teams,” he said. “I know (Taiwan) was a super power in the 80s and early parts of international women’s football. The Philippines has never been and every player on the field will have nerves, and that’s normal.

“It’s going to be an even game,” added Stajcic, who expects his players to step up regardless of the starting lineup he’ll put up for the all-important affair.

Taiwan reached the quarters as the second-best team in Group A, with its lone win coming at the expense of Iran with a 5-0 thrashing. Its other match in the group was a 4-0 defeat to China.

It will be the sixth meeting between the two sides, with Taiwan having won all of the previous matches, including a come-from-behind 4-2 win in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2019.

But the campaign has shown the capability of the Filipinas to make history, as seen in its breakthrough 1-0 win over Thailand and an impressive showing despite losing 4-0 to Australia in the group stage.

Strikers Chandler McDaniel and Sarina Bolden, midfielders Tahnai Annis and Katrina Guillou, defenders Hali Long and Dominique Randle and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel are expected to play huge roles.

A loss will relegate the Philippines to a repechage to determine the remaining World Cup slots, the format to be determined based on Australia’s quarterfinal match with South Korea.

Other quarterfinal pairings pit China against Vietnam and defending champion Japan opposite Thailand.

Meanwhile, the match will be aired on free TV on One Sports and its online platforms after a partnership between Philippine Football Federation and rights holder Eleven Sports.

Source: Manila Bulletin (