Filipinas tackle HK, Tajikistan, Pakistan

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — While gearing up for its milestone debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July, the Philippines is also taking a crack at a dream stint in the 2024 Olympics.

The Filipinas take the first step in this long journey in Round 1 of the Women’s Olympic Football Qualification tourney from April 3 to 11 against Hong Kong, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

The Pinay booters’ initial opponents in Group E were known during yesterday’s draw at the Asian Football Confederation House in Kuala Lumpur.

“I’m very excited to know our opponents,” said Filipinas coach Alen Stajcic.

“It’s a long and difficult road to qualifying for Paris. But qualifying through Round 1 and trying to get some matches against the big nations of the AFC is a very enticing and appealing prospect.”

The objective is to top the group to advance to Round 2 where higher-ranked North Korea, Australia, Japan, South Korea and China are seeded.

Ranked 53rd in the world, the Filipinas have beaten Hong Kong in their last meeting at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying in 2021, 2-1. They also hold a psychological edge against Tajikistan, whom they defeated twice, including a 3-1 victory in the qualifiers for Tokyo. At 177th, Pakistan is the heavy underdog in this group.  

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