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Long, Filipinas still savoring historic conquest

The national women’s football team remains overwhelmed after a year since booking a historic trip to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this July.

Filipinas co-captain Hali Long recalled the triumphs and challenges that they experienced during their campaign in the 2022 AFC Asian Cup in Pune, India, where they formally punched a ticket to the most prestigious football tournament in the world.

The 28-year-old Long played a crucial role while Quinley Quezada, Sarina Bolden and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel made significant contributions to the Filipinas, who booked a 4-3 win after a 1-1 draw with Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals that made them the first Philippine side to reach the World Cup.

Quezada opened the scoring in the 49th minute before Zhou Li-Peng netted the equalizer in the 83rd.

Then, Bolden knocked down the winning penalty shot before McDaniel did not only save twice but also scored the winning spot kick.

The Philippines lost to South Korea in the semifinals, but it didn’t matter as it already pocketed the coveted World Cup spot.

“I knew how exhausted I was, mentally and physically; let alone my teammates who run a lot more in their given positions,” the Filipino-American center back said.

“We had to band together. We had to put our morale and camaraderie until the very last whistle.”

Long said making it to the World Cup is still surreal.

“It just shows that anything is possible. We always go to tournaments as the underdogs,” she said.

Still, the job is far from over.

With their World Cup inclusion comes a lot of expectations so Long and the Filipinas have to work hard to come up with a strong performance.

“With the success of 2022, it comes with expectations. Expectations come with pressure. And that pressure is a privilege,” she said.

“Being on this team is not something that we can have often. It’s a privilege. So, to say that we have that, is a responsibility now.”

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