Football: Harrison set for return but Bugay ruled out of AFF tourney

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 07:32 PM

via PWNT.
Sofia Harrison (16) may play for the Philippines against Malaysia after missing their first two games of the 2022 AFF Women's Championship. Photo courtesy of the PWNT.

MANILA, Philippines -- Sofia Harrison will be available for selection when the Philippine women's national football team plays Malaysia on Friday in the 2022 AFF Women's Championship, according to head coach Alen Stajcic.

Harrison has been Stajcic's first choice at left back but the 23-year-old suffered an injury during their training camp in Europe ahead of the regional competition.

"She [Harrison] picked up an injury before we played our first game against Bosnia and Herzegovina at training, the day before," Stajcic told reporters on Wednesday, after the Filipinas' 7-0 rout of Singapore at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

"She blocked a shot with her foot and twisted her ankle. We thought she was gonna be okay a week ago, but it just keeps niggling. I just don't wanna risk her at this stage," the coach added.

Harrison, who has won 15 caps for the Philippines, could have featured against Singapore but Stajcic decided against subbing her in. The Filipinas won comfortably, scoring four times in the first half which allowed the coach to give significant minutes to his reserves.

Stajcic deployed Dominique Randle, Jessica Cowart, and Malea Cesar at left back in Harrison's absence.

"[Harrison] should be okay for the next game," the coach said.

However, veteran midfielder Ryley Bugay has been ruled out for the rest of the AFF Women's Championship after sustaining a knock in their second friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bugay, 26, collided badly with a Bosnia and Herzegovina player and had to be subbed out in the 20th minute.

"She's been ruled out of this tournament now. It's disappointing for her," Stajcic said of Bugay, who suffered a cut on her head during the collision. "She's been such an important contributor to this team over the last six or seven months, so we just hope she gets better quickly, gets well soon."

"We'll support her through the process of rehabbing that injury," the coach assured.

The Filipinas are currently on top of Group A with six points after two matches, and will be favored to rack up a third straight win against a lower-ranked Malaysian side.