The Philippines women’s national football team made their long-awaited FIFA Women’s World Cup debut with a 0-2 defeat against the world No. 20-ranked Switzerland team.
PWNT head coach Alen Stajcic, who took charge of the team in October 2021, was instrumental in building the team’s current roster, composed of several Filipino American talents.
Prior to the tournament, Stajcic spent the last 18 months holding camps in his home country of Australia and the U.S. The Filipinas also played in pocket tournaments and friendly games in Costa Rica, Chile and Spain.
The Philippines also honed their skills competing in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship at home, the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and in the first round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Hisor, Tajikistan.
In fighting form: In their opening game against Switzerland, the Filipinas appeared to be in good form on football’s biggest stage.
The Philippines’ Katrina Guillou appeared to score the team’s first-ever World Cup goal, but it was disallowed due to an offside ruling.
The Swiss took the lead just before halftime with a contentious penalty decision, converted by Ramona Bachmann.
“If it’s a VAR decision – from my understanding – it’s supposed to be a clear and obvious error,” Stajcic later said of the penalty. “I didn’t see the replay.
Throughout the match, the Filipino players displayed aggressiveness on the ball, despite having only 27% possession. The defense, led by former Australia international Angela Beard, exhibited excellent promise.
Guillou and Quinley Quezada actively pushed the ball on offense, but there was room for improvement in getting star striker Sarina Bolden more involved. Despite their valiant efforts, the Philippines ended up not securing a victory.
“There’s no doubt they are the better team, and they should be,” Stajcic was quoted saying. “I was really proud of the spirit that our team showed. I think we showed that we can be competitive. To come to this level and play against players from Europe, against a team like that is miraculous.”
Tough road ahead:
The 2023 Women’s World Cup marks a significant milestone, with the tournament expanding to 32 countries, an increase from 24 in previous editions. The other first-timers in the new format are Haiti, Morocco, the Republic of Ireland, Panama, Vietnam
, Portugal and Zambia.
The defeat against Switzerland leaves the Filipinas facing an uphill battle for the rest of the tournament as they face co-hosts New Zealand on July 25 in Wellington and former champions Norway on July 30 in Auckland.