PHNOM PENH — Deflating as the Filipinas’ medal-less gig in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) may be but coach Alen Stajcic firmly believes it will only make the team stronger for their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut.
Mr. Stajcic’s wards capped their campaign here with a 2-1 win over holder Vietnam the other night but the result wasn’t enough to propel them to the semifinals and a possible crack at the gold.
“It has no effect at all,” said Mr. Stajcic, whose side finished level at six points in Group A with the Vietnamese and Myanmar but was undone by its inferior +1 goal difference in the tiebreak versus their rivals’ +4 and +3, respectively. “It’s another group of matches (in the buildup for July’s World Cup) for our inexperienced group.”
The Filipinas, the reigning Asean champions, failed to duplicate their bronze medal haul from the Hanoi Games.
A 1-0 defeat to the Burmese in the opening match proved fatal in the end despite scoring a thrilling 1-0 bounceback against Malaysia and getting maximum points versus the Vietnamese.
“The resilience the players showed is very pleasing. Fighting to the last minute (versus Malaysia) even though weren’t not playing well, then beating the favorites of the tournament shows we can compete at this level,” said Mr. Stajcic.
“The next step of our evolution is to do it every game, throughout the match. That’s just a part of the journey of this team and we’re a very, very young team and I know we have good times ahead of us.” — Olmin Leyba