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Filipinas bow to New Zealand

New Zealand exploded with two goals in the second half en route to a 2-1 win over the Philippine national women’s football squad yesterday in a friendly match held at the Titan Stadium in Cal State-Fullerton.

It was the Filipinas’ first outing since beating Thailand in the AFF Women’s Championship last July at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Ranked 22nd in the world, New Zealand was simply too much for the Philippines, which, surprisingly started strong, by drawing first blood courtesy of Sarina Bolden’s volley — thanks to an assist from Sara Eggesvik — just before the halftime break.

But the mood changed in the second half when New Zealand levelled the count with Meikayla Moore hitting a penalty shot past goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel in the 67th.

Ali Riley closed out scoring in the 82nd, sending the Filipinos in panic mode.

Jessika Cowart attempted to freeze the count but her header hit the goal post.

The friendly also marked the 40th international appearance of right back Eva Madarang, who made her debut for the Philippines in the 2018 AFC Asian Cup.

Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic admitted the match could have gone either way and thought that the team played well against a higher-ranked team that will also co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year.

He, however, noted the players have to find a way to win as the World Cup is only a few months away.

“I thought, overall, it was a performance that matched the team that is considerably higher than us and, on another day, that result could have gone our way.”

“But there are still errors for to improve on the ball with our movement and the execution of passes but it was a good performance against a good and experienced team and in some respect, we’re unlucky to get a point out of it and could have gotten the win,” said Stajcic, a former Australia women’s football team coach.

“We can compete but we didn’t win. I’m happy that we competed and showed where we are at this level but ultimately, we have to find a way to win and I’m never going to be happy with losing that’s for sure.”

Stajcic believes the Filipinas still have a lot to improve on before the World Cup and that getting a match like that against the Football Ferns will do them good.

“We’re always progressing and we’re always reaching high. That’s why we pick an opponent that’s over 30 places higher than us in the rankings to test where we are and I think we can compete at that level if we did everything right,” Stajcic said.

“Certainly, a lot of improvement in us as well.”

“So, the best part is that we continue to improve every day.”

The Filipinas are also expected to battle Costa Rica, Uzbekistan and Jamaica in a tri-nation tourney within the month.

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