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Bolden emboldened by World Cup task

This photograph taken on May 6, 2023 shows Sarina Bolden of Philippines (L) celebrates after scoring a goal against Malaysia in their women's football group match during the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) at the Army Stadium in Phnom Penh. Photo by Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

Filipinas forward Sarina Bolden assured fans she and the team won’t be backing up on the humongous challenge they will face once the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup officially starts on 20 July in Australia and New Zealand.

Bolden, who is part of the 26-woman pool for the Filipinas in the final training camp before the World Cup, said in an interview with that even if the Philippines is up against a tough group, the squad will not just roll over.

The Filipinas are in Group A with co-host New Zealand, Switzerland and former world champion Norway in Group A.

The Filipino-American forward, who plays for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League Women in Australia, will be one of the pillars of the squad seeing action for the first time in football’s biggest competition.

Up in their crosshairs are the Norwegians, who will be bannered by six-time UEFA Women’s Champion’s League winner Ada Hergerberg.

“I think everyone is beatable, and I know that might sound weird coming from the least likely team to do damage in the World Cup. But everyone is beatable and we’re going to go into it with the mindset that we can beat Norway,” Bolden said.

“I think (it will help) with the conditions, adjusting to the weather, just the atmosphere of being there. We’ll be playing in New Zealand, but it should be similar conditions, so I can have some insight to tell my teammates what to expect,” she added.

Group A games will be played in New Zealand with the Philippines facing the Swiss on 21 July at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin and then playing against the Kiwis on 25 July at the Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington.

The Filipinas will cap their elimination round campaign against Norway on 30 July at Eden Park in Auckland.

Teams that finish in the top two spots in each group will advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.

Bolden credits Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic for building up the team’s character and never settling for less in their matches.

She also hopes more girls in the Philippines will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

“I know being in the World Cup is going to bring a lot of awareness. I hope the younger kids and people of all ages want to get more involved in soccer and us being on that stage is going to really help,” Bolden said.

“He’s (Stajcic) been one of the best assets of this team, and its growth and success are because of him and the staff that he’s brought on. His knowledge of the sport and tactics and just professionally I think has really helped this team get to where we are today.”

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