HANGZHOU, China — Regardless of what happens next, the Philippine women’s football team has achieved something for the country that’s never been done in the last 65 years.
The Filipinas, starring Sarina Bolden and Sara Eggesvik, pulled off a 3-nil victory over Myanmar Thursday evening to reach the quarterfinals of the 19th Asian Games at the Wenzhou Sports Centre Stadium.
The last time the country made the knockout stage in football in the Asian Games was in 1958 in Tokyo, Japan with its men’s team.
Now, the Filipinas are in, barely two months after their historic stint in the FIFA Women’s World Cup highlighted by a stunning win over host New Zealand.
On Saturday, however, the Philippines will play Japan, the No. 1 team in Asia, the reigning champion in the Asian Games, and also the 2010 gold medalist in Guanzhou.
“We’re very happy for the team making history again by advancing to the quarterfinals,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta from Manila.
“We knew it was going to be very difficult for the team to progress because other results had to go our way earlier in the day. But the team kept its focus on the task at hand and did an outstanding job against a team that they have struggled to beat in the past,” he added.
Bolden, who scored the country’s historic first goal in the World Cup, struck in the 19th minute to give the Filipinas a 1-0 lead.
Then Eggesvik delivered another goal 15 minutes into the second half, and then another one just a minute after.
The victory gave the Philippines a 2-1 record in Group E after a 3-1 win over Hong Kong and a 5-1 loss to topnotcher South Korea, the bronze winner in 2018.
But it was enough to send the Filipinas into the Last Eight with six points and a +1 goal difference.
“The match not only showcased the improvement of this team, but the maturity and experience in facing tough situations. There is just something great about the grit and determination of the Filipinas every time they face adversity,” Araneta said.
“This is a hard-earned spot in the quarterfinals and we welcome the opportunity for the Filipinas to face the No. 8 ranked team in the world in Japan.
The Japanese are the highest-ranked team the Filipinas (No. 44) have ever faced in a tournament so we are very excited for this match,” he said.