THE PHILIPPINE women’s football team drew first blood against higher-ranked New Zealand (NZ) but failed to follow through and yielded a 2-1 defeat in yesterday’s friendly at the Titan Stadium in Fullerton, California.
Showing grit against an opponent 34 places higher in the global ranking, the No. 56 Filipinas fought the NZ Ferns toe-to-toe and had them play catchup after Sarina Bolden’s 45th minute strike.
The reigning Asean queens held the upperhand until the 71st minute when the team from Oceania finally broke through courtesy of Meikayla Moore’s penalty kick.
New Zealand then nosed ahead 12 minutes later on Ali Riley’s lob over Olivia McDaniel. The Filipinas hunted for the equalizer and conjured a good shot from sub Jessika Cowart, whose effort, however, hit the woodwork, allowing the Kiwis to complete the come-from-behind.
“It was a performance where we matched a team ranked considerably higher than us and you know, on another day, that result could go our way,” said Philippine coach Alen Stajcic.
Though taking the positives from this tough tuneup, Mr. Stajcic would like his charges to pick up victories as they continue their buildup for their maiden sting in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Yes, we can compete but we have to win and we didn’t win. So I’m happy that we competed and showed that we’re at this level but ultimately, we have to find a way to win. And I’m never going to be happy with losing,” the Australian mentor said. — Olmin Leyba