Switzerland capitalized on the Philippines’ critical defensive lapses in each half to fashion a well-earned 2-0 triumph on Friday, July 21, in the first match in Group between the two sides in the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Ace striker Ramona Bachmann converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute off defender Jessika Cowart’s miscue inside the box then Seraina Piubel wrapped the game up on a point blank follow-up in the 65th minute to give the La Nati their first victory in the group.
In what could have changed the entire complexion of the game, forward Katrina Guillou struck from the right wing after slipping past a defender in the 16th minute, only to see it ruled offside by Togo referee Vincentia Abedome, to the dismay of the small but lively Filipino gallery.
While acknowledging that the Swiss were the better overall side, Australian coach Alen Stajic was mildly puzzled the referee awarded the penalty kick to the Swiss.
“Did you see it the offense of Stewart? Was it clear? I did not see the replay, but if it is a penalty it should be clear,” Stajcic replied to a foreign scribe about the initial goal.
“But it has to be admitted that the Swiss were dominant during the last 10-minute period and when you work that hard, you create your own luck,” the Aussie tactician stressed.
Stajcic likewise pointed out that if Guillou’s goal was counted “this would have change the tenor of the game because it would put the pressure on them not us .”
German coach Ingmar Gings complimented the Filipinas in their tough play in the first half and was relieved that her favored charges settled down on the way to completing the much-needed win.
Behind goalie McDaniel’s brilliant heroics and the resilient Filipinas’ defense, the match looked headed for a goalless draw at halftime until defender Cowart took down Coumba Sow from behind inside the penally in the 45th minute.
“I knew the penalty was important since it would give us the lead at halftime. But I am used to it,” said Bachmann, who plays for French powerhouse club Paris St. Germain.
Nonetheless, Stajcic was proud how the Filipinas were not as jittery as some would have expected of them in playing for the first time on the grand football stage “but showed courage and competitiveness throughout against our rivals who had several players playing for professional clubs. We had our moments.”
Supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, the Filipinas try to regroup as they return to their base camp in Auckland Saturday before heading to Wellington on Sunday as they brace for their must-win encounter against New Zealand, which rocked the group with a 1-0 upset of top pick Norway at Eden Park in Auckland last Friday.