PHNOM PENH — Experience will only make the Philippine national women’s football team stronger.
Coach Allen Stajcic said this after the team pulled off a 2-1 upset of defending champion Vietnam, but still failed to advance to the semifinal round of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games’ women’s football tournament on Tuesday evening at the Smart-RSN Stadium, Toul Kourk District here.
The Australian mentor of the team, collectively known as the Filipinas, however, said the squad’s inability to the advance to the semifinals, where they could have matched their bronze-medal finish or surpass it with either a first-ever gold or silver, hardly put a dent in their preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this July.
“This has no effect in our preparations. It’s just another group of matches in an experienced group,” said Stajcic.
The heroics of the team’s top-scorer in Sarina Bolden and Halli Long went for naught after Myanmar repulsed Malaysia with a massive 5-1 rout at the Old Stadium in the other side of the city.
Both the Philippines and Myanmar finished with a 2-0-1 win-draw-loss record, but it was the latter, which joined Vietnam in the semis on a better goal difference
The champs took the top berth with their 2-0-1 slate.
The other two semifinalists are Cambodia and Thailand.
On hindsight, Stajcic said the team should have been more aggressive at the start of the game to ramp up the possibility of securing more goals.
“We tried to waste the clock in the first minutes of the game to show that we have a positive attitude,” said Stajcic, who, however still praised his team for the win.
“Yes, we had our best performance in the tournament. And we saved it for our toughest opponent,” added Stajcic as the Philippines handed Vietnam a second straight defeat following the Filipinas’ 4-0 rout in the AFF Women’s Championships.