Philippines stuns New Zealand for first-ever World Cup win

By Kevin Estrada

The Philippines came prepared to the Wellington Regional Stadium and shocked co-hosts New Zealand, 1-0, in just their second game in the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday making July 25, 2023 a momentous date for football in the country.

Just four days after their loss to the 20th-ranked Switzerland in Dunedin in their debut, the 46th-ranked Malditas leaned on the tactical mastery of Australian manager Alen Stajcic, as both forward Sarina Bolden and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel stood out to silence the Ferns in front of 32,357 fans inside the Cake Tin.

The Filipinas’ fighting heart were on full display as it weathered numerous attacks that the home side had thrown on them for the full ninety minutes, as the upset made Group A wide open after the Swiss and 1995 champions Norway played into a goalless draw in Hamilton later in the day.

“To think that we have done it in our second match in our first World Cup. You can’t really appreciate how far we’ve come back in the pack compared to where those countries were in terms of their football history, their culture and investment,” said Stajcic, who went with the Matildas to the Women’s World Cup in 2015.

New Zealand dominated the play to start the match, but none of their 16 attempts on goal found the back of the net.

The breakthrough came in the 24th minute, as Bolden towered over three Kiwi defenders in the six-yard box to head home Sara Eggevik’s cross past Victoria Esson, registering the country’s first ever goal in a World Cup, both men and women.

Bolden’s strike made her on level terms with Quinley Quezada at the top of the Malditas scoring charts with 22 goals apiece.

In the second half, McDaniel’s hands did the talking as she led the Filipina backline weathering all the Ferns attack, which searched for equalizers after being stunned in the opening 45 minutes.

Forward Hannah Wilkinson found herself open in the 58th minute inside the box, but her header off CJ Bott’s cross just went over the bar.

The agony continued six minutes later, when Jacqui Hand’s right-footed effort was denied by the left post after being picked out by Olivia Chance in a New Zealand counter.

Then, the video assistant referee came to the Filipinas’ aid in the 70th minute, just four days after conceding the penalty in that manner.

Mexican referee Katia Garcia chalked off the equalizer of Jacqui Hand after seeing through the monitor that Wilkinson was caught inches offside prior to her cross to her strike partner.

Deep into stoppage time, McDaniel pulled off a fingertip save to deny Grace Jale, with the Ferns substitute saw her short palmed away to the left side of the goal line.

The Filipinas mobbed their goalkeeping heroine on full-time, but they will go back to work as they will face the 12th-ranked Norwegians on Sunday, July 30 with a trip to the knockout phase on the line.

NEW ZEALAND: Esson (GK), Bott, A. Riley, Stott, Bowen, Percival © (Jale 83’), Steinmetz, Hassett (Longo 46’), I. Riley (Chance 46’), Hand, Wilkinson

PHILIPPINES: O. McDaniel (GK), Cowart (Bugay 83’), Long ©, Beard, Harrison, Barker (Randle 70’), Sawicki, Eggesvik (Flanigan 63’), Quezada (Annis 70’), Bolden (Frilles 83’), Guillou

Image courtesy of Pilipinas Women’s National Football Team

Follow the writer on Twitter: @kevinlestrada

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