MANILA, Philippines – It felt like hope was lost for the Philippine women’s football team as it trailed Chinese-Taipei in a nerve-wrecking penalty shoot-out in their AFC Women’s Asian Cup quarterfinal with a FIFA Women’s World Cup berth on the line.
Up 3-2, the Taiwanese only needed to drill in the last of their five penalty shots to win.
But Filipina goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel held her nerve as she pulled off a crucial save, scored the goal that sent it to sudden death, and defended another Chinese Taipei shot to help propel the Philippines to the World Cup for the first time in history.
“I think it’s really important to show resilience and I think it’s important to instill that into the next generation that when things get tough, you can’t give up,” said McDaniel.
“You can’t stop, you gotta keep going until the very end and you walk off that field and say, ‘You know what, if it didn’t go my way, I still did everything I could possibly do,’ and I think it’s really truly important for the next generation and to be a role model for that sort of stuff.”
Philippines head coach Alen Stajcic showered his talented goalkeeper with praise as she proved instrumental to their formidable campaign so far, especially during the roller-coaster group stage.
“[W]hat an unbelievably brave act to have that level of composure and bravery at the moment to step up for the team and the coolness to slot it away. I think that’s massive pressure,” Stajcic said.
“I’m glad that she’s so relaxed about it,” Stajcic added. “An unbelievable performance for her and she’s just one of the whole crew that have done remarkably well in this tournament.”
McDaniel stressed the importance of creating “more spaces for women in football and in sports in general.”
The Filipinas’ win over Chinese Taipei may kickstart this ambition as they are the first team in the country’s history to claim a spot in the sport’s most prestigious tournament – the World Cup.
Not only that, the Philippines also advanced to the Asian Cup semifinals and will battle Korea for a seat in the championship game on Thursday, February 3.
McDaniel, a self-proclaimed fan of BTS and J-Hope, shared that their recent accomplishments still feels a little surreal for her.
“Just being able to be the team and be the ones who set this historic milestone for the country and for everyone, I have such immense pride in this team. Being the ones to set this record and getting to play, it all feels like not real. It’s crazy.” – Rappler.com