Filipina booters lauded for historic FIFA World Cup berth

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Congratulatory messages poured in for the Malditas, the Philippine women’s football team, for clinching a spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) after beating Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup early Monday (Philippine Time) at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.

“Our Philippine Women’s National Football Team made history in the field of sports,” Malacañang said via Karlo Nograles, acting spokesperson and Cabinet secretary. “Congratulations for clinching the country’s first FIFA World Cup berth. We are qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2023. Filipinos are really different! Congrats!”

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president, Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, also joined the entire country in celebrating the historic achievement of the team.

“The POC congratulates our women’s football team for making world football history,” said Tolentino after the Malditas beat Chinese Taipei, 4-3, in a penalty shootout.

The Philippine Football Federation Women’s National Football Team celebrates after securing a spot in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia. | MVPSF photo

The victory allowed the Malditas to advance to the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asia Cup, also a first by any Philippine team on the continental stage.

With the historic feat, Tolentino said Philippine sports have never been this successful.

Sarina Bolden set up the Filipinas’ date with history as her penalty was the difference in their 4-3 shootout win over Chinese Taipei following a 1-1 deadlock after extra time.

But it was Olivia McDaniel, who set up Bolden’s magic down the stretch, even as the Taiwanese girls suddenly lost steam despite being a goal away from clinching their own place in the FIFA WWC.

With her team up, 3-2, in the shootout, Cheng Ssu-yu gave Chinese Taipei the major advantage after saving Jess Miclat’s attempt that would have kept the penalty contest tied.

But Hsu Yi-Yun kept the team, also known as the Malditas, in the game after she sent her penalty attempt to the left goal post despite sending McDaniel to the wrong side of the goal.

Cheng stepped up anew for Chinese Taipei as she punched Hali Long’s own shot, although she had to breathe a sigh of relief as the ball still bounced high before eventually sailing out of the goal line.

After saving Su Sin-Yun’s attempt, McDaniel stepped into the penalty dot and sent a power shot to the left side that Cheng could not keep out, forcing the sudden death round.

McDaniel then showed that she can still save the football after kicking it in as she stopped Zhuo Li-Ping’s attempt, setting up Bolden’s heroics.

Bolden, like her attempt against Indonesia, decided to slot the ball into the left side, and Cheng found the shot too fast to save as the former knocked the ball in to win it for the Malditas.

Her penalty miss turned out to be a heartbreaker for Zhuo as she sent the match into extra time with an 82nd-minute goal from outside the right elbow, canceling Quinley Quezada’s opening goal for the Philippine side in the 49th minute.

“We won our first-ever Olympic gold medal in Tokyo last July—adding two silvers and one bronze—and then this in football,” Tolentino. “Filipino athletes have been leveling up and are putting the country prominently on the world sporting map.”

Tolentino also congratulated the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) for having accomplished what looked like an “impossible dream,” noting that we are not a football-loving nation.”

The PFF is headed by Mariano “Nonong” Araneta with lawyer Edwin Gastanes as secretary general. – PNA