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Mon 22 July 2024

QUEENS OF SOUTHEAST ASIA: Filipinas win PH’s 1st AFF crown

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The eleven year journey of the Filipinas has reached another peak. And this definitely is the highest, not just for the women’s team, but for Philippine football.

The Philippine women’s national football team displayed their relentless maldita spirit, annihilating four-time champion Thailand in the final game of the 2022 ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship, 3-0, in front of a capacity Rizal Memorial Stadium crowd on Sunday.

Photo by Kenneth Panlilio

 

“Football is alive in the Philippines and that’s all that matters,” exclaimed Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic, who steered the team to the 2023 Women’s World Cup after a semifinal stint in the 2022 AFC Asian Cup and a bronze medal in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games.

See also: BABAE NA! Women send PH football to FIFA World Cup

The Filipinas made the most out of their vaunted high press, mastery of set plays from corner kicks, and their superior speed to stymy the Southeast Asian powerhouse to achieve only their second head-to-head win against Thailand.

Full-back Jessica Cowart and team captain Tahnai Annis did not waste their first corner kick play, with Annis issuing the pass from the right corner to the head of Cowart for the latter’s maiden international goal in the seventh minute.

Cowart started the scoring for the Filipinas. Photo credit: PWNT/PFF

The Filipinas’ disruptive defense heckled Thailand’s traditional free-flowing offense, limiting the Elephants to wayward long shots.

A second goal did not come too long as forward Katrina Guillou tapped in a goal off the shot of Jaclyn Sawicki in the 20th minute for her seventh international goal.

Guillou, center, after slotting in the Philippines’ 2nd goal. Photo credit: PWNT/PFF

This opened the floodgates for numerous shots for the Filipinas in the second half, with missed shots from Annis, Sarina Bolden, and Quinley Quezada.

The Thais played more composed in the second half but still had difficulty sending the ball to the attacking third, as goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel saved the two crosses Thailand afforded to forwards to Saowalak Pengnam and Kanyanat Chettabutr in the 54th and 69th minute.

The game went physically wayward thereafter, with five yellow cards issued—two each for Filipino and Thai players and one Stajcic.

Amidst the chaos, Bolden sealed the crown and her Golden Boot by bouncing a header to the goal off a right corner kick by Sara Eggesvik in the 89th minute. Pandemonium ensued five minutes later, as the final whistle was blown.

Bolden seals the win with the national team’s 3rd goal of the game. Photo credit: PWNT/PFF

“It’s a dream come true, winning gold and everything, I can’t put into words all of that,” said Guillou, who was named Woman of the Match.

According to Guillou, the historic crown—the Filipinas’ second after winning the 2012 Los Angeles Vikings Cup—was the result of the experience accumulated from past generations of Filipinas players.

Stajcic also attributed the win to the ten-month preparation of the current squad, dating back to their two-month USA camp before the February AFC Asian Cup to the Europe camp last June.

“For them to get through this grueling schedule, ten games in a month across two continents, that’s incredible,” Stajcic explained.

When asked about how tonight’s game ranked in his stellar coaching career, which included Australia’s first quarterfinal stint in the Women’s World Cup, Stajcic replied, “Tonight is number one.”

McDaniel was solid inside her box. Photo credit: PWNT/PFF

With her last minute goal, Bolden became the second Filipina Golden Boot awardee with eight goals, besting Huynh Nhu of Vietnam by one. Fellow black Filipina Joana Houplin first won the award in the 2013 AFF.

With her eight tournament goals, Bolden has become the co-leader with attacking midfielder Quinley Quezada in the Filipinas’ all-time scoring list with 17 goals.

McDaniel has also won the Golden Glove, conceding only one goal in four caps, becoming the first Filipina goalkeeper to earn the distinction.



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