Can the Philippines Qualify for the 2026 World Cup?

Photo by Fauzan Saari on Unsplash

Philippine football’s failure to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup did not come as a huge shock with the men’s team currently languishing in 140th place in the FIFA rankings.

Qualification for the 2026 World Cup seems just as unlikely with only Indonesia from Group F ranked lower. The other teams in their group include Vietnam who are ranked 94th, and Iraq who are currently 63rd.

Sports fans from the Philippines hoping to back their team for qualification can expect decent odds and exploring the likes of Lucky Block betting will help them find the best.

Even the most hopeful fan is unlikely to back them to win the World Cup, with Iraq priced at around 2,500/1, the Philippines will be seen as an even more unlikely option.

As things stand, the Philipines currently sit in third place in their qualification group following a 0-2 home defeat to Vietnam and a 1-1 draw with Indonesia. They now face back-to-back ties against group favourites Iraq.

One of the most notable things about the current Philippine squad is how widely spread their players are. The current squad is packed with players currently playing their club football in Europe, including Neil Etheridge who qualifies for the national team through his mother.

Etheridge was born in London and came through the Chelsea and Fulham youth setups before getting most of his game time for Walsall, Cardiff, and currently Birmingham City.

Other notable players include Gerrit Holtmann who plays in Turkey for Antalyaspor as well as John Patrick Strauss and Raphael Obermair who play in Germany for Hansa Rostock and SC Paderborn respectively.

While it is unlikely that the Philippines national team will qualify for the 2026 World Cup, there is some hope for the future following the appointment of John Gutierrez as the new president of the Philippine Football Federation.

Gutierrez has already made moves to improve the infrastructure of football in the country by bringing in a team of experts to help at the grassroots and professional levels.

The purpose of this is to further develop homegrown talent to complement those of Filipino descent who make up the bulk of the national team. This improved training and development should provide the country with a long-term strategy to improve the men’s and women’s games.

The current Philippines squad has a lot of experienced and ageing players including Etheridge at 34 and Stephan Schrock who returned from international retirement at the age of 37.

However, there are some great younger prospects, including 25-year-old Jefferson Tabinas who recently moved from Japanese football to Thailand. Santiago Rublico is maybe the brightest hope at just 18 and currently playing for Atlético Madrid’s under-19 team as a dynamic full-back.

Filipino football fanatics might face disappointment in their team’s 2026 World Cup hopes, but there is an undercurrent of optimism surrounding football in the country. The Philippines could be a country worth watching in the not-too-distant future.

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