Philippines stun New Zealand for historic World Cup victory

Filipina Sarina Bolden eliminates New Zealand goalkeeper Victoria Esson with a powerful header.  —REUTERS

Filipina Sarina Bolden eliminates New Zealand goalkeeper Victoria Esson with a powerful header. —REUTERS

WELLINGTONNew Zealand – Sarina Bolden did her best to avoid shedding a tear as she searched for words to express what it meant to achieve another historic moment in football for the Philippines here in Wellington, New Zealand.

“I feel like I’m in a dream. It doesn’t look real,” Bolden said after his historic goal handed the country their first-ever victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cupthe biggest stage in world football.

Her goal in the 24th minute was scored by a pass from Sara Eggesvik that the Bolden, 27, walked past in the hands of New Zealander Victoria Esson. It was a fleeting moment of glory on the pitch in front of 32,357 fans, but it will be a lasting memory for the striker and her nation.

“I will remember this moment, forever. For the rest of my life,” Bolden said. “I’m so happy to have been able to be a part of it and make history with my teammates and everyone involved.”

There was not a dry eye among the Filipinos and their fans who transformed Wellington’s chilly regional stadium here into a Down Under version of Rizal Memorial Stadium with chants of “Go Pilipinas!” and “Isa pa!” And it was also emotional for the fans at home, the ones the team is fighting for.

“Oh my God, I’m so moved by our first ever World Cup victory,” Bethany Talbot, 21, said in Manila as she stood in front of a large Bolden poster.

“I know all the other girls there, all the girls, all feel the same way. I feel like I’m speechless right now, but I’m so over the moon.

‘Special Moment’

Philippines' Olivia McDaniel New Zealand Women's World Cup

Soccer Football – FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Group A – New Zealand v Philippines – Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand – July 25, 2023 Olivia McDaniel of the Philippines celebrates after the match REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

When Bolden’s goal didn’t seem to be enough for the Philippines, goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel put in an inspiring performance between the sticks, earning player of the match honors.

And the Philippines also had a bit of luck with sophisticated technology that has yet to reach the country’s shores before the Philippines secured their World Cup victory in their second game of the tournament.

“When you hear stories about how it took other teams to win World Cup matches and we did that in our second World Cup match in our first World Cup, that’s a special moment in the history of Philippine team sports,” coach Alen Stajcic said.

It’s a quick achievement, indeed, compared to many footballing nations, including some of the 32 who are here and in neighboring Australia for the competition, who had waited years or are still looking for that elusive first victory. And the team is looking to turn this historic victory into a fairy tale.

Philippines New Zealand FIFA Women's World Cup

Wellington, New Zealand, July 25, 2023: The Philippines team enjoys the win with some post game photos. New Zealand versus Philippines. FIFA World Cup. Group A. Wellington. New Zealand. (Joe Serci/SPP)

“Hopefully this isn’t the last accolade we can get,” McDaniel said.

With Norway struggling, the consensus best team in Group A, held at a Switzerland scoreless draw Also on Tuesday, the Philippines have a chance to advance to the round of 16 of the tournament. But for that, the Philippines will have to turn around and put in an ultra-incredible performance to beat the 1995 champion on Sunday at Eden Park in Auckland.

Switzerland, which defeated the Philippines with a 2-0 result last Friday in Dunedin leads with four points while the Philippines and New Zealand have a similar three points. Norway, still looking for form and with star striker Ada Hegerberg now out with injury ahead of the match against Switzerland, produced just one point.

McDaniel’s saves frustrated a New Zealand side who were unable to follow through on their own historic first in football, which was last week’s 1-0 win over Norway, which came in the Football Ferns’ sixth appearance. “It’s so heartbreaking for everyone in this team,” said their Czech coach Jitka Klimkova.

New Zealand threatened for most of the second half. Jacqui Hand nearly tied the game after the hour mark, only for her attempt to hit the left post and roll into McDaniel’s gloves.

And it appeared Hand got her second chance when she netted a header off a Hannah Wilkinson header in the 68th minute.

Ironically, Fifa VAR, who fouled Jessika Cowart during a challenge in the box and resulted in the first of Switzerland’s two goals against the Philippines, came to the country’s rescue this time after showing Wilkinson was barely offside before setting up the pass for Hand.



Sarina Bolden is now a Women’s World Cup star for the Philippines with a winning goal

Bolden says task is tough for PH, but Philippines are ready to fight

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