KICK OFF. The Philippines and Wales dispute the ball in the Pinatar Cup match opener.
The Philippine women’s football team yields in the 2023 Pinatar Cup opener in Spain as Kayleigh Green’s first-half penalty powers Wales
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s football team absorbed a 1-0 loss in its Pinatar Cup debut against world No. 32 Wales at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain on Wednesday, February 15 (Thursday, February 16, Manila time).
Filipinas center-back Dominique Randle conceded a penalty just before the first half ended after she mistimed a sliding tackle on Rhiannon Roberts.
Kayleigh Green stepped up to take the penalty kick and calmly drilled the ball past Philippine goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel at the 45th minute to give Wales the advantage.
The Philippines wound up at third place in the four-team table with 0 points and a -1 goal difference, while Wales placed second with 3 points and a +1 goal difference.
Iceland, which won against Scotland, 2-0, earlier in the day, topped the table on the first match day with 3 points and a +2 goal difference.
Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic went for a 4-4-2 formation to kick off their campaign in the invitational pocket tourney as he started Alicia Barker, Hali Long, Dominique Randle, and Sofia Harrison at the back alongside goalie McDaniel.
Quinley Quezada, Sara Eggesvik, Jessika Cowart, and team captain Tahnai Annis started at the midfield and supported the two forwards in Carleigh Frilles and Isabella Flanigan.
The Filipinas struggled to keep the ball as they only had 17% of the possession inside the first 45 minutes.
Wales, meanwhile, took advantage of its time with the ball as the entire team accumulated 6 shots, with 2 of those on target.
McDaniel faced her first test at the 17’ mark as she denied Rachel Rowe’s attempt at close range following a loose pass from teammate Ceri Holland.
Despite the massive gap in the possession, the Filipinas’ defense stood tall to deny the Welsh team a goal until they conceded a spot kick at the end of the first half.
Katrina Guillou and Eva Madarang were brought in for Flanigan and Quezada to start the second half and Guillou immediately made an impact as she fired in a shot at the 47th minute, but it was saved by Wales keeper Safia Middleton-Patel.
Stajcic continued to tinker with his lineup as he put in Meryll Serrano, Malea Cesar, and Anicka Castañeda for Annis, Barker, and Frilles at the 64th minute, but the fresh substitutes fell short of recording a goal.
Kaya Hawkinson was the Filipinas’ final substitute as she replaced Cowart at the 82nd minute, but the score remained in Wales’ favor.
The 53rd-ranked Philippines will look to bounce back versus world No. 25 Scotland on Saturday, February 18, 10 pm (Manila time), at the same venue.
Before leaving for the tournament, the Filipinas said they aim to sharpen their match fitness in the round-robin tourney as they brace for this year’s major competitions, which includes a historic stint in the World Cup in July. – Rappler.com