The Filipinas team achieved another historic entry in the history of Philippine sports!   In addition to qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2023, yesterday (July 25), it won the game against one of the host countries New Zealand.  Despite being considered to be the under-dog in the match, the team showed its determination and grit throughout the game.   

In front of the reported attendance of 32,357-strong crowd at the Wellington Regional Stadium, Sarina Bolden delivered a perfect header to convert the perfect cross from Sara Eggesvik.  She soared high above two Kiwi defenders to head in the goal at the 24th minute of the game.   This amazing goal was nearly stopped by the NZ goalie who got her finger to the ball, but she tipped in as she fell backwards to save it. This resulted in the score of New Zealand 0 : Philippines 1 during the first half. 

The Kiwis had opportunities to shoot a goal to equalise.  However, through the valiant saves by the Philippine keeper Olivia McDaniel and intense defence by the players kept that score through to the end.  At the referee’s whistle signifying completion of the match, the outnumbered but loud and proud Filipinos in the stadium screamed with great delight, celebrating Filipinas' victory.

After Sarina’s goal, she ran jubilantly to her team mates for a group hug with a number of the players shedding tears of joy.   But as the camera panned to show Coach Alen Statjcic, he showed a stoic composure, not showing any emotions.

When asked to comment about the match, Sarina Bolden said:

“The soccer gods were in our favor tonight.  No one expected us to win but I think we’re very used to that, being the underdogs. And it took a lot of hard work and grit and just not giving up (to pull through). “

Sarina Bolden earned the heroic achievement scoring Filipinas’ first ever World Cup goal; however Olivia McDaniel deservedly was awarded “Player of the Match” in this momentous victory of the team in the World Cup.

She shared her accolade with the rest of the team.

She commented: “Everyone worked their butts off and we put our heads down and we fought to the end we worked and we got what we wanted out of it, so it feels amazing.”

The team felt the big threat to its victory in the second half when Jackie Hand beat McDaniel with a header to tie it up. But as stated by Sarina, the “football gods” were smiling upon Filipinas, the NZ goal was declared null  after the VAR deemed that NZ’s Hannah Wilkinson was offside during the play.

With Filipinas’ win, it had come back to be in contention for the next round after a loss in the game vs Switzerland,  with the score of 0:2.  It is now equal on points with the Kiwis behind the Swiss, who increased its points to four after a 0-0 draw with Norway.

For highlights of the game, here’s Optus Sport video.

The Australian Filipinas wishes the best for its next game on Sunday, July 30 at 5pm Sydney time, and the for the rest of the competition.

(Acknowledgement - Flyer from the Philippines Women National Football Team FB page.)
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The writer joined a Watch Party organised by the Filipino Sports, Arts and Recreation Club (FILSPARC) held at the Lone Star Restaurant to watch the live coverage of the game.  Among those present from the group were Len Puzon, Con & Sheila Cantero Raptis and family, Carol & Manny Israel, and John Calvert.

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