Football: With World Cup spot clinched, Pinays turn attention to South Korea

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  • The Philippine women’s national football team has already achieved its goal in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022, but they have at least one more opportunity to make history once again.

    The Filipinas have been hailed as the country’s new sporting heroes after their dramatic victory against Chinese Taipei on Sunday night in India, which punched the Philippines’ ticket to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

    It marks the first time that the Philippines will be appearing in the World Cup, and it came in heart-stopping fashion as the Filipinas stunned the higher-ranked Chinese Taipei, 4-3, on penalties.

    “Every single positive emotion you can think of, that was us after the game,” said striker Sarina Bolden, who converted the match-winning penalty after goal-keeper Olivia McDaniel had mae two clutch saves to keep the Philippines alive.

    But the focus of the squad now turns to South Korea, the No. 18-ranked team in the world, as they play in the semifinals of the Women’s Asian Cup. Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m. at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India (4 p.m. in Manila).

    Though the team remains on cloud nine after their historic qualification to the Women’s World Cup, they also assured that their full attention is now on South Korea, another powerhouse of Asian football.

    “I think all the girls are just excited to keep the momentum going, and just really being able to have an opportunity to play another top team like Korea, and you know, just hopefully trying to make history again,” said Bolden.

    “(It’s) another tough game for us,” said Philippines coach Alen Stajcic. “We’ve already had many tough games in this tournament, and obviously Korea are one of the big teams in Asia, and have qualified for the last few World Cups.”

    While the Filipinas will certainly be confident after their win against Chinese Taipei, South Korea also has momentum, thanks to a 1-0 upset of pre-tournament favorites Australia in their own quarterfinal match. Chelsea star Ji So-yun netted the match-winner in the 87th minute, a superb curling effort from outside the box that knocked out her club teammate, Sam Kerr, and the Matildas.

    This time around, both teams are already assured of qualification to Australia/New Zealand 2023, and Bolden hopes that the Filipinas can play with a more relaxed mindset while still pushing to get a good result.

    “Now that we’ve achieved our goal, maybe raising that bar, and saying, ‘Hey let’s go to the, like I said, win this whole thing.’ But you know, do it a little more relaxed,” she said.

    “‘Cause we did (qualify for the World Cup), and this is just another opportunity to grow as a team… and see where we are, set another benchmark,” she added.

    The winner of the Philippines-South Korea game will play the winner of the other semifinal match between China and two-time defending champion Japan. (C. Naredo, abs-cbn)

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