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In defeat, Filipinas can be proud of their valiant FIFA Women’s World Cup debut

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In the end, there was to be no fairy tale for Philippines in their FIFA Women’s World Cup bow.

Up against opposition ranked 26 places above them in the world’s top 20, and having reached the round of 16 in their previous World Cup appearance back in 2015, a 2-0 defeat for the Filipinas at the hands of Switzerland was according to script.

Yet, look past the result and delve deeper into the actual contest at Dunedin Stadium and the reality will show that it was hardly a straightforward result for the Swiss.

Philippines actually found the back of the net first — Katrina Guillou‘s effort correctly ruled out for offside — and only fell behind right on the stroke of halftime through a contentious penalty.

Jessika Cowart made the slightest of contacts to the heel of Coumba Sow with the ball gone from the vicinity after the latter had pushed it to the edge of the area, only for the video assistant referee’s intervention to lead to the subsequent awarding of the spot-kick.

Once Ramona Bachmann calmly converted from 12 yards, Switzerland were always going to be firmly in control of proceedings and they duly went on to seal the victory four minutes after the hour mark through Seraina Piubel’s close-range finish on the rebound — following a heroic but ultimately futile double save from Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel.

The fact that the Filipinas have now lost what arguably looked their best shot at a positive result — with games against co-hosts New Zealand and former champions Norway to come — does not bode well for their already faint hopes of progressing out of Group A and into the knockout round.

But it should take little away from a valiant display that will dispel any doubts as to whether the World Cup debutants have what it takes to match it with some more-illustrious opposition on football’s biggest stage.

For most of the contest, and especially in the opening 45, Philippines looked on par with Switzerland.

They were composed on the ball even if they would end up with just 27% of possession and showed excellent organisation in defence, led by one-time Australia international Angela Beard.

Guillou and Quinley Quezada were lively in pushing forward, although perhaps the one criticism of Philippines was their failure to get star striker Sarina Bolden more into the game.

Quite simply, the Filipinas were far from overawed by the first taste of the World Cup.

Instead, it looked like this is where they belong.

Philippines will need more of the same when they take on New Zealand and Norway — two games in which they will once again be the underdogs in are few are expecting them to come away with anything other than defeats.

Friday’s result will ultimately go down as a loss — one that leaves Philippines with an uphill battle to salvage anything out of their campaign.

But for a team featuring in their maiden World Cup who hardly looked out of their depth, Friday’s valiant loss to Switzerland could easily be viewed as a triumph for the Filipinas — and all of Philippine football.

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