EA Sports FIFA 2023: Meet the First Philippine Football Team to Reach the World Cup

Photo From BootCamp Football Shop | Women's International Football | World's Game | Women's Club Teams | Fifa 23
Photo From BootCamp Football Shop | Women’s International Football | World’s Game | Women’s Club Teams | Fifa 23

A look at FIFA Women’s World Cup

Held every four years and a year after the Men’s world Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a professional football tournament participated in by women’s national football teams from different countries. The first-ever tournament was played in 1991 in China and has since expanded to 32 teams commencing this 2023. The last tournament in 2019 had the US Team as victors, beating Netherlands 2-0 in the final.

Australia and New Zealand co-hosts the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup

The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the EA Sports 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup was organized by co hosts Australia and New Zealand and held from July to August 2023. This year’s world cup is a milestone event as it is the first time that there is more than one host nation and the first tournament conducted across multiple confederations. Australia is in Asia, while New Zealand is covered by the Ocenia Confederation. Moreover, it is the first FIFA Women’s World Cup held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Of the qualified teams by regions the high ranking teams include: Japan and Australia; U.S. and Canada; Nigeria and South Africa; Brazil and New Zealand; and in Europe, Germany, Sweden, England, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, and Portugal.

Filipinas makes a breakthrough

The Philippines makes its first breakthrough in the EA Sports 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, marking it as the country’s first historical debut throughout any FIFA-sanctioned football competition.

The Filipinas faced New Zealand on July 25 in Wellington, before ending their Group A campaign against Norway on July 30 in Auckland. The Women’s World Cup finals will take place on August 20, Sunday, at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Joining forces from host cities in different parts of the world to represent their home country, here are the powerful women who represented the Philippines in the international football competition

Philippine Women’s National Team Final Roster of Players

The Philippine women's national football team | Photo from Philstar | Sydney Football Stadium

Goalkeepers: Kiara Fontanilla, Kaiya Jota, Olivia Davies-McDaniel

Defenders: Alicia Barker, Angela Beard, Reina Bonta, Malea Cesar, Jessika Cowart, Sofia Harrison, Hali Long, Dominique Randle

Midfielders: Tahnai Annis, Ryley Bugay, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Eggesvik, Quinley Quezada, Jaclyn Sawicki

Forwards: Sarina Bolden, Isabella Flanigan, Carleigh Frilles, Katrina Guillou, Chandler McDaniel, Meryll Serrano

Reserves: Inna Palacios, Maya Alcantara, Isabella Pasion

Tahnai Annis

Captain of the Filipinas, Annis has been competing for the women’s national football team since 2018. She traces her roots to Quezon province through her mother Myla, who is her main inspiration to represent the country.

Hali Long

Co-captain Hali Long, 28, has made Manila her home since she started playing for the Filipinas in 2016. She has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the country’s most prominent local club, Kaya FC. Lilie Candido, Long’s mother, is Filipino.

Sarina Bolden

Bolden is the woman behind the Philippines’ first-ever World Cup goal. She also scored the winning goal on the Philippines’ first game in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the opening game ever-winning penalty in 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which secured a slot for the country in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Bolden’s mother, Sherry Calpo, was born in Pangasinan.

Angela Beard

Angela Beard, the latest addition to the Filipinas, is a member of Western United in the Australian A-League. She also spent time playing professionally pro clubs in Denmark and Iceland, and was formerly a member of the Matildas, Australia’s women’s national football team.

Beard’s mother, Marilou, was born and raised in Cebu. Making her Cebuano lineage proud is a huge motivation for her in representing the country in the Women’s World Cup.

Alicia Barker

Cell line development sports scientist Barker joined the Philippine team in December 2022, and has since taken over the starting right-back position for the Filipinas in their first two games in the Women’s World Cup. Barker was an All-Big Ten Second-Team Defender in the US NCAA for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Reina Bonta

Quezon City-born Reina Bonta is a graduate from Yale University and a professional film director. She is also a member of Santos Futebol Clube, one of Brazil’s most esteemed football teams.

Ryley Bugay

Bugay returned to the Filipinas after spending a year at the Indiana University School of Medicine–Evansville, where she is studying to be a doctor.

Her maternal grandfather left the Philippines for the United States to finish his medical training in 1954, and eventually started working as a urologist. Her Filipina mother was a three-sport athlete in her younger years.

Anicka Castañeda

Castañeda, 23, has been playing for the national team since she was 17.

She began her professional career in Australia, where she plays for the Mount Druitt Town Rangers in the New South Wales National Premier Leagues 1, the second-highest league in the nation after the Australian Football League (A-League).

Malea Cesar

Cesar, 19, is one of the three teenagers in the Filipinas team and was born in the United States to a Filipino father and American mother. She is a second-generation national athlete. Her Father, Ben Jr., born in Makati, represented the Philippines in athletics in the Southeast Asian Games. Cesar is part of the Blacktown City Football Club which competes in the National Premier Leagues NSW in Australia.

Jessica Cowart

Cowart, 23, debuts with the Filipinas in 2022 with eligibility through her mother, Melissa. She once represented the US national futsal team in Spain, and plays as a midfielder or defender for IFK Kalmar in the Damallsvenskan, Sweden’s top division. She also played professionally for Çaykur Rizespor in Turkey and for ŽFK Spartak Subotica in Serbia.

Sara Eggesvik

Eggesvik started playing club football when she was 17 with Idrettsklubben Grand Bodø in Norway. She plays for Malvik Idrettslag in Norway. In 2019, Eggesvik joined Charlton Athletic in the Women’s Championship, the second-highest division of women’s football in England. Like Bugay, Eggesvik is also taking up medicine. Sara knows a bit of Bisaya, as her mother is from Davao City.

Bella Flanigan

Flanigan made her international debut for the Philippines in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup at the age of 16. In both of the Philippines’ opening Women’s World Cup games, she is the only one from the bench, bringing relentless energy against Switzerland and New Zealand. Currently 18 years old, she has already participated in 29 international matches at the senior level. Flanigan’s mother, Melissa, is from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental.

Carleigh Frilles

During the semifinals of the 2016 Asian Football Confederation U-14 competition, Frilles slotted in a second-half hat trick, leading Philippines to a 5-1 victory over Myanmar when she was only 13 years old.

She is currently the fifth top scorer on the current national team roster, scoring and collecting 12 goals overall. 21-year-old Frilles, whose father Alan is Filipino, currently plays for the Blacktown Spartans FC in Australia’s NSW Premier League.

Kiara Fontanilla

In the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Fontanilla, 23, made her Philippine debut against the Matildas of Australia. Her mother Fabiola is Mexican, and her father, Francisco, is originally from Baguio.

Katrina Guillou

Guillou, 29, and her siblings were raised by their mother Lorna, a Quezon City native, in a Filipino household. Her French father passed away when she was a toddler.

Since 2021, Guillou has been playing for Piteå IF in the Damallsvenskan, Sweden’s top women’s football league. She had previously competed in Finland’s top women’s league, the Naisten Liiga.

Sofia Harrison

Harrison is the first member of the Filipinas signed into a top-level women’s football team in Germany that competes in the Frauen-Bundesliga. Ginalyn, Harrison’s mother, was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States at a young age.

Kalya Jota

Jota, 17, is the youngest in the Filipinas roster and one of the youngest players in the entire Women’s World Cup. Born to a Filipino father hailing from Quezon City and Pasig, Jota had her first exposure with the women’s national team when she was just 16. She will be joining the Stanford University Cardinals in 2024.

Chandler McDaniel

In the 2021 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers, Chandler provided the crucial assist that secured the Philippines’ third place, in the main tournament in India last year. She scored the lone goal, helping the Filipinas defeat Thailand.

Olivia McDaniel

Photo from Philstar | Fifa Women's World Cup, UEFA Women's Champions League, Sydney Football Stadium, World's Game, Ea sports, men's world cup. ea sports logo, official fifa licensed product, ea account, brisbane stadium

Olivia is the Filipinas’ first-choice keeper. Her younger sister, Chandler, football coach dad Clint, and younger brother Griffin, have been with local club Stallion FC since 2020. Her mother, Lindy, has roots in Pampanga and Davao.

Quinley Quezada

Since she started playing for the Philippines in 2018, Quezada has developed into one of the team’s most prolific scorers. She sits slightly behind Bolden, who has 23, with 22 goals. Ruth Campomanes, Quezada’s mother, was born in Bataan, while her father, Raul, is from Mexico.

Dominique Randle

After spending a long time away from football, Randle is now having a comeback in the league. Randle, born to Filipina Catherine Abrena, signed her first professional club contract with ór/KA in Iceland in February of last year. Randle is Annis’ teammate there.

Jaclyn Sawicki

Sawicki, 30 years old, was invited to represent Poland’s national team through qualification from her father. However, she decided to represent the Philippines, where her mother was born. In the Australian A-League, Sawicki and Beard play as colleagues at Western United. The two aided Western United in reaching the A-League championship.

Merryl Serrano

Serrano, whose mother is Filipina, has been playing professional football in Norway since 2012 when she was just 14 years old. Currently 26 years old, she is also a midfielder for Stabæk, a Norwegian Toppserien club.

How the Filipinas achieved qualification

The Philippines qualified for their very first FIFA Women’s World Cup through their semifinal finish at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Their campaign was led by Australian football manager Alen Stajcic who was appointed head coach in October 2021. They secured their place in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they beat the Chinese Taipei women’s national football team in the quarterfinals on penalty shootouts following a 1-1 draw. They ended their campaign with a 0-2 defeat to South Korea in the semifinal.

Group stage

The Philippines played its inaugural World Cup match against Switzerland. In the 16th minute, Katrina Guillou appeared to score the Philippines’ first-ever goal, but it was disallowed after it was ruled to be offside. Shortly before halftime ended, Switzerland was given a controversial penalty after Jessika Cowart committed an apparent foul on Swiss Coumba Sow while attempting to clear the ball. A review was called and the Swiss team was awarded a penalty which was converted to a goal by Ramona Bachmann. The game eventually ended in a 0–2 defeat.

Their next game is against New Zealand, which defeated Norway. The Philippines secured their first-ever World Cup win through a goal by Sarina Bolden in the 24th minute, which is also the very first goal by the Philippines in the tournament. Jacqui Hand’s goal-bound shot from Hannah Wilkinson’s cross in the 68th minute was New Zealand’s best opportunity to tie the score. However, the goal was determined to be offside.

The Philippines’ last group stage match is against Norway, with the latter drawing their second match against Switzerland. Winning against Norway would assure the Philippines’ advance to the Round of 16. However, the Philippines fell to Norway, conceding six goals and ending their campaign.

Win or lose, this is a tremendous achievement not only for the Philippine women’s national football team, but for their management, fellow Filipino football players, and the country. Abante, babae!

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