By Joshua Corcuera

Bittersweet—this word best describes the victory of the Philippine women’s national football team, the Filipinas, against Vietnam last Tuesday in the 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia.

For context, the Filipinas managed to secure a 2-1 win against the Vietnamese which is the reigning gold medalist at the SEA Games for women’s football. Despite this, however, the Filipinas are out of medal contention and would not achieve a podium finish for this year as they were eliminated in the group stage.

Winning against a strong team in the region is certainly sweet, but knowing that we are going home without a medal is bitter.

If we analyzed the performance of the Filipinas for this tournament, the main culprit would be its lackluster performance in the opening match against Myanmar, and the subsequent incapacity to demolish a weaker Malaysian side in its second game.

In its first match for the 2023 SEA Games, the Filipinas absorbed a shocking 1-0 defeat against Myanmar. On paper, it seems that the two teams are neck-to-neck considering that the rankings of the two teams are close. But Myanmar has not performed strongly in their recent matches; not until they faced the Filipinas at the very least.

The first half performance of the Filipinas against Myanmar, honestly speaking, was not good. In the first place, they failed to create any chance to score as their opponents dominated ball possession. On the contrary, the Filipinas easily lost possession of the ball, and their passing was generally poor.

In the next 45 minutes, they managed to perform slightly better with some scoring chances. Yet, Myanmar managed to win by a single goal by virtue of a penalty in the final minutes of the match. The call was controversial, but it is sufficient enough to make the difference.

Had the Filipinas kept Myanmar scoreless, they should have advanced to the semi-finals as of writing, and still be up for contention for the gold.

Towards its next game, the Filipinas clearly dominated possession and passing against Malaysia, a good improvement compared to its initial match. But the attacking chances of the national team were just like that—chances.

They failed to capitalize their dominance in offense as the Malaysians managed to park the bus and kept their defense solid. As a matter of fact, the game-winning goal for the Filipinas came at the last minute which was literally the last chance of the game. Though it is a win, it is, for me, not a good showing as well.

Their last match against regional powerhouse Vietnam is different as compared to the first two matches. The Filipinas managed to play good football, with several chances to score, and good handling of the ball. There were some few errors, but these are natural. But, as mentioned earlier, this is not enough for the Filipinas to advance further in the tournament to bring home a medal.

Now, the point of this article: what lies ahead for the Filipinas? Despite the results being worse than the expectations of many—since most fans expected them to finish in the podium—the future remains bright for the national team. After all, they managed to qualify for the World Cup this year in Australia and New Zealand which is a huge achievement in football.

Moreover, it is imperative to note that several key players of the Filipinas were not present during the SEA Games as they have to commit to club duties. Henceforth, there is no reason to panic among football fans and there is reason to believe that they would go back to their winning ways with their usual lineup.