The Philippine women’s football team faces a difficult task in the coming 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup with five of the eight qualifiers are in the top 30 ranking of the International Football Federation (FIFA).
The Filipina booters, who made history in the recently-concluded Asian Cup qualifiers in Tajikistan, will be up to a tremendous challenge in the eight-nation tournament to be held in Jordan next year.
Although this will be the Philippines’s ninth appearance in the Asian Cup, the PH XI has never advanced to the group stage on its first eight stints.
And for the 2018 Asian Cup, five of the competing nations, including defending champion Japan, are expected to be the favorites to grab the five slots at stake for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France.
Japan, a regular fixture in the World Cup, is ranked No. 6 in the world while Australia, the 2010 Asian Cup winner, is at No. 8 in the FIFA ranking for women.
China, the eight-time champion of the Asian Cup, is at No. 14 in the world ranking while South Korea at No. 17. Thailand, the powerhouse Southeast Asian nation in football, at No. 29.
Vietnam, which will be making its eighth appearance in the Asian Cup, has a FIFA ranking of 33 while the Philippines, still dreaming for its first World Cup appearance, is at No. 68.
Asian Cup host Jordan is unranked by FIFA mainly because of lack of football activity in the country for the past 18 months. But judging on its 5-1 win over the Filipinas in their Group A battle, the West Asia nation will also be a force to reckon with in the tournament.
The eight nations will be divided into two groups in a draw to be held on December this year. The top two teams per group will not only advance to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup but also bag the tickets to the World Cup.
The third placers in each group will face off in a sudden death match with the winner pocketing the fifth and final slot in France.