Filipinas take SEA Games flop as lesson learned for World Cup stint
The Filipinas refused to be discouraged by their early exit in the 32nd Cambodia Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and would rather look at silver linings that could be useful heading into the homestretch of preparations for the Fifa (International Federation of Association Football) Women’s World Cup.
“They say bilog ang bola (the ball is round),” defender Hali Long said after the Filipinas unveiled their Adidas-designed World Cup kits on Tuesday in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
“It really shows that we have a lot more developing to do. We have a lot more of maturity that we need,” she continued. “I mean, we just want to be better each game.”
Hopes of improving its bronze medal finish in last year’s edition in Hanoi, Vietnam, were dashed after the Filipinas placed third in Group A behind eventual champion Vietnam and losing finalist Myanmar.
A loss to Myanmar on a late penalty to open the tournament and a last-gasp winner by Sarina Bolden to defeat lowly Malaysia eventually put coach Alen Stajcic at a disadvantage.
The Filipinas closed out the campaign with a 2-1 win over Vietnam that put the two teams and Myanmar on level terms at six points apiece, but were eliminated due to an inferior goal difference.
“It wasn’t the result that we wanted,” said Olivia McDaniel. “We wanted to do better than bronze from last year.
“But every moment is a learning curve and a learning process and I think we’ve learned a lot from this tournament.
“We are gonna take some time to reflect, and some good things came to it as well,” added the team’s top goalkeeper.
The good things McDaniel mentioned was the Vietnam game, a battle of two teams that qualified for the World Cup. The Filipinas took the lead twice, including Long’s winning goal in the 83rd minute.
It was the second straight time the Philippines won against Vietnam, having beaten the latter in the semifinals of last year’s Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship in Manila.
“Beating Vietnam two times in a row is a great deal after having a history of not playing well against them,” said McDaniel. “I think that will give us a boost going into what’s next for us since they are a World Cup team as well. So I think that will boost the morale for us.”
Team manager Jefferson Cheng said the Filipinas will likely reconvene next month with a camp either in Australia or New Zealand for the final stages of preparation for women’s football’s biggest showpiece.
They’ll hope to use the camp to clean up on the things that contributed to the ultimate result in Cambodia and make up for it when the Filipinas face crack opponents in New Zealand.
“We take [the SEA Games outcome] for what it is. It’s a learning opportunity and it’s a growing experience,” said Long. “It’s another learning moment we keep with us going into the World Cup preparation.”
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