MANILA, Philippines – An emotional Sarina Bolden hopes the Philippine women’s football team won’t be forgotten just yet even as the team bowed out of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 following a 2-0 loss to world No. 18 South Korea in the semifinal round of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022.
“Philippines, you’re gonna remember this team and you’re gonna see us in the World Cup. So don’t forget about us, cause we’re coming back,” said the 25-year-old forward.
A historic run to the semifinal stage of the Asian Cup certainly won’t be forgotten that easily as the Filipina booters secured the Philippines a World Cup spot for the first time.
“I know I said it before, but it’s just like passion and like Filipinos, our resilience is legendary and like no matter what, you’ll see Filipinos working so hard and putting their heart, their souls into everything that we do,” said Bolden.
The Filipinos claimed a seat in the world’s most prestigious football event after advancing to the Asian Cup semifinal with a win over world No. 39 Chinese Taipei in a 1-1 (4-3 via penalties) decision.
“I think that’s what you saw that day, like you saw girls over communicating, yelling, screaming no matter where they were because that’s just how Filipinos do it,” said Bolden. “Like we’re loud, we’re proud.”
“Not even just that being loud, it’s the fight and the grit I think that we as Filipinos have,” added Philippine goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel. “The laban (fight) we have is just, it’s insane.”
In an impressive display of determination all tournament, it’s no surprise the Filipinas earned the respect of opposing coaches.
Korea’s Colin Bell was the latest head coach to praise the Philippines, noting how dangerous the Filipinas were during their semis encounter.
“A lot of respect for the Philippine team and the way that they performed and Alen (Stajcic) has done a fantastic job,” he said.
Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic was only appointed last October 2021 by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), and despite the short amount of time he had with the team, the Australian tactician was able to transform the squad into a formidable side that kept on setting a new bar match after match.
The Filipinas stunned world No. 38 Thailand in their opening group stage match, went toe-to-toe with world No. 11 Australia in the next, set a 6-0 winning margin against world No. 94 Indonesia, and then claimed a maiden berth in the FIFA Women’s World Cup following an intense win versus Chinese Taipei.
Stajcic conceded that Korea was the better team in their semifinal duel, but revealed that the “best part” of that showdown was seeing his players fight until the end even though they logged 120 minutes in the previous round.
“It’s an amazing, amazing beat of heart and courage and spirit in this group and I know I’m so proud of them,” he said.
“I know the whole coaching staff are really proud and I think all of… everyone back home in the Philippines should be so proud of this group. They’ve come such a long way in such a short space of time.”
Bolden said the improvement of world No. 64 Philippines has been immense.
“I would just say this team has grown so much just like in the past couple of years,” she said. “Look how far we’ve come, played against like Myanmar, Nepal, and we’re barely able to keep up with them. But now look at us, we’re competing with Australia, Korea.”
Bolden also said she was aware the Filipina booters were overlooked heading into the tournament
“A lot of people doubted us, but we came here, we fought every single game,” said Bolden. “Now we have made a name for ourselves.”
A bigger name, and also a bigger stage to display their talents soon, as the Filipina booters aim for new heights in next year’s World Cup. – Rappler.com