ICYMI, our very own Filipinas have just had quite the victory in the first round of the Paris Olympics Qualifying Tournament.
After making history multiple times last year, including being victors at the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championships, getting into the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup, and most importantly, securing a slot at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (a first for Philippine football), the Filipinas are poised to rewrite history once again after crafting an impressive three-match sweep in the first round of the 2024 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Related: Herstory Made: Philippine Women’s National Football Team Clinches A Spot At The World Cup
WHAT A SWEEP
Held at the Hisor Central Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the Olympic Qualifying Tournament stint of the Philippine women’s football team started with a strong debut on April 5, 2023. Headed by coach Alen Stajcic, the Filipinas cruised to an overwhelming 4-0 victory over Pakistan. Veteran Filipina booters Hali Long, Sarina Bolden, Eva Madarang, Chandler McDaniel all contributed goals for the team that awarded them a full three points in their standings in the Group E.
This rousing gameplay continued three days later as the Filipinas completed a commanding rout of host country Tajikistan. Sofia Harrison opened the scoring for the country in the 26th minute. Then it would only take 12 minutes for the squad to make it 5-0 all courtesy of captain Tahnai Annis, Carleigh Frilles, Quinley Quezada, and Meryll Serrano. Maya Alcantara would fire another goal before the first-half break and Chandler McDaniel would cap off this fiery onslaught with two more goals, completing the match with a glorious 8-0 finish.
And just last Tuesday, the Filipinas never let their foot off the pedal and continued their dominant charge with their deciding match against the 79th-ranked Hong Kong. Bolden set the tone with a brace in the fifth minute and later drilled in another goal in the 41st. Serrano and Quezada also chipped in goals apiece as they routed Hong Kong in a 4-0 win. A total of 16 goals, three wins, three clean sheets, without fouls or cards collected, the Filipinas reigned supreme with a sweeping victory in their group and now proceeds to their second straight progression to the second round of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers.
The Filipinas will continue their Paris Olympics bid as they now join the five seeded teams (Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, and North Korea) and six other qualified teams in the second round of the Asian qualifiers that will start in October. “We know we’re coming up against big nations now in the next round, Australia, Japan, China and the two Koreas plus Thailand and Vietnam,” says coach Alen Stajcic. “It’s going to be very difficult for us and we need to be ready.”
But before the second round of the Olympic qualifiers, the Filipinas will first gear up for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia next month. The Philippine team will face the defending gold medalists Vietnam in Group A and will aim to improve their bronze medal standings from last year. And with their stunning 4-0 semifinal win against Vietnam at the AFF last July, we know the Filpinas have a confident chance to pull it off again.
Their SEA Games stint will also be among the Filipinas’ final preparations as they continue their road to their maiden appearance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July. Just last month, the Filipinas celebrated another milestone as they climbed 22 spots in the ranking and became world number 49, the highest FIFA ranking Filipino football has ever achieved. There really is no stopping the Filipinas’ passion and winning momentum. And to that we say, #LabanFilipinas!
Continue Reading: These Filipina Athletes Are Breaking Barriers For Women In Sports