Asian football

Filipina booters raring for more history as Asian Cup semis vs Korea looms

Juro Morilla
Filipina booters raring for more history as Asian Cup semis vs Korea looms

STILL GOING. The Philippine women's football team is not done after booking its ticket to the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Asian Football Confederation

A win over Korea will propel the Philippines to the AFC Women's Asian Cup finals for the first time

MANILA, Philippines – Having already secured a spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 last Sunday, January 30, the Philippine women’s football team will look to carve another piece of history as it battles Korea in the semifinal round of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022. 

Sarina Bolden, who scored the final spot kick in the penalty shoot-out versus Chinese-Taipei in the quarterfinals, revealed that everyone in the Philippines’ locker room is eager for more accomplishments as the team progresses in the tournament.

“We just made history like on top of history and it’s like might as well just you know, keep going to the top, let’s win this whole tournament,” said the 25-year-old attacker.

“So the belief is like, let’s just continue to make history. Let’s keep proving people wrong. Let’s keep working hard. And let’s achieve more than what people even thought we could achieve.”

The Filipina booters started their Asian Cup campaign by recording a first ever victory over Thailand, 1-0, following Chandler McDaniel’s screamer at the 81st minute.

More little bits of history were carved out after the last group stage match versus Indonesia as the team earned a second victory – their most in the tournament, registered their highest winning margin at 6-0, and obtained a spot in the knockout round to vie for the title for the very first time.

After the third and last group stage match against the Indonesians, Philippines head coach Alen Stajcic praised his wards as they just keep raising the bar every time they do something new.

“It’s a new ceiling for the team and the country,” said the former Matildas tactician, who was only appointed by the Philippine Football Federation last October 2021. 

The Filipina booters eventually broke that ceiling once again as they prevailed over world No. 39 Chinese-Taipei, 1-1 (4-3 via penalties), in the quarterfinals. 

Not only did they book a ticket to next year’s World Cup, but the Filipinas also set up a semifinals clash against world No. 18 Korea, which defeated World Cup 2023 co-hosts Australia, 1-0, in their own quarters match-up.

Olivia McDaniel, the team’s goalkeeper who saved two spot kicks and scored one during the intense penalty shoot-out against the Taiwanese, admitted that by qualifying for the World Cup, the squad’s initial goal has been fulfilled, with the Filipinas finally getting the pressure off their backs.

“We can just all take a breath and say ‘you know what, we’re just so happy and lucky and grateful to be here and just have fun like this is what we love and do and this is our passion.’”

Bolden agreed with McDaniel and discussed playing with a relaxed state while having another opportunity to grow as a team and go beyond what they have achieved so far.

“[W]ith a little bit less pressure and just maybe more focus to have fun … it can reflect on how we’re gonna play,” Bolden said. “[I] know there’s been a lot of pressure leading up to this point.”

On a personal note, McDaniel is excited to play Korea for two reasons.

The first one is that her favorite boy group, BTS, might watch the match and she wants to impress her K-Pop idols – specifically band rapper J-Hope. 

The second is that one of her favorite footballers, Ji So-yun, will be on the other side of the pitch. The South Korean midfielder, who plays club football in England for Chelsea FC Women’s, was the match winner in Korea’s triumph over Australia as she scored a long-range stunner.

Aside from that wonderful goal against Australia, Ji So-yun has also scored in the group stage matches versus Myanmar and Vietnam, respectively.

Her exploits in England should not be overlooked as she has bagged multiple Player of the Year awards and was named in the 2019 PFA Women’s Super League 1 Team of the Year.

If the Filipina booters find a way to shut down the 30-year-old midfielder in their semifinal clash, they will have a massive chance to capture their first-ever Asian Cup finals appearance.

The Philippines takes on Korea at 4 pm on Thursday, February 3, at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India. – Rappler.com

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