SANTIAGO, Chile – The Philippine Women’s National Team wrapped up its first trip to South America with a draw and a narrow defeat to Chile in two friendly matches.
But coach Alen Stajcic believes the Filipinas learned valuable lessons that will come in handy as they continue preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year.
The Filipinas, the reigning AFF champions, battled La Roja Femenina to a 1-1 draw in Viña Del Mar last Saturday.
But they absorbed a 0-1 defeat to the Chileans in their rematch that was marred by the questionable red card on midfielder Sara Eggesvik early in the second half at the Estadio de la Pintana here.
“We’ve never played against South American opposition before so it was an excellent opportunity for us to grow and develop and become better footballers leading into the World Cup,” said Stajcic.
“I thought the first game we showed some good signs defensively and we were disciplined like we were often this year whereas in the second game, I thought in the first half we lacked the intensity and drive that we should have and should be the foundation of the team so that was a little bit disappointing but you know we more than compensated for it in the second half.”
The Filipinas created numerous chances in the second half after Eggesvik was shown a red card. They pressed high and won the ball in good areas and always threatened in set pieces.
Quinley Quezada fired a shot off target early in the second half, while substitute Bella Flanigan’s effort from a tough angle only grazed the crossbar.
More importantly, the Filipinas played with a drive and purpose which pleased Stajcic.
“We showed so much heart and spirit, it was really one of the best efforts from us in the last 12 months to be able to almost get on the front foot with one player less and creates lots of chances and be positive and determined and showed all the attributes that we need to have within the group,” said Stajcic.
“It was a really eye-opening and pleasing second half and we needed it because we needed to compensate for that lack of intensity that is required for international football.”
Stajcic told the Filipinas that the second half performance should now be the benchmark moving forward
“I think the players now know that’s the benchmark and nothing below that will be accepted moving forward,” said Stajcic. “We need to be at our peak in that respect, in that part of the game, every single time we go across the field.”
Stajcic was also delighted to see captain Hali Long deliver an outstanding performance. Long scored the first goal in the first match last Saturday.
“We know we had some great leaders out there tonight and Hali Long was one of them,” said the Australian mentor. “It’s nice to see one of the captains of the team stand up and lead with courage and determination and hardwork when we most needed it.”
The tough conditions in South America should augur well for the Filipinas in the World Cup where they will be facing host New Zealand in the group stage.
“It’s a cauldron when you’re coming to South America,” he said. “It’s the hotbed of football and it has been for a very long time and for us to go down a player, probably a bit unfortunately, but that happens in a game of football sometimes and the way we responded and rebounded after that moment is one of the most encouraging things I have ever seen from this team for a long time.”
The team is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, MVP Sports Foundation and team manager Jeff Cheng.
ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE FOOTBALL FEDERATION
The Philippine Football Federation is national sports association for the sport of football in the Philippines recognized by FIFA, Asian Football Confederation, ASEAN Football Federation, Philippine Sports Commission, and Philippine Olympic Committee.
The PFF is also in charge of sending national football teams in international competitions. It is headed by president Mariano Araneta, Jr. and general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes.
ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM
The Philippine Women’s National Team, more commonly known as the Filipinas, is the women’s national football team in all international tournaments under the auspices of FIFA, AFC, AFF.
In January 2022, the Philippines qualified to its maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance owing to their semi-final finish in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022. The Filipinas also claimed its first international championship by winning the AFF Women’s Championship last July 2022 in Manila.
The team is coached by Australian coach Alen Stajcic and is supported by team manager Jefferson Cheng, Philippine Sports Commission, and MVP Sports Foundation.
PWNT Media Officer