The top two officials of the Philippine Football Federation on Monday, July 31, expressed their pride and thanks to the Filipinas, the national women’s football team, for uniting the nation and Filipinos worldwide for their memorable and historic outing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Over the course of the last 18 months, the Filipinas united the country in support in their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance,” noted PFF president Mariano Araneta a day after the gallant PH side lost to Norway 0-6 to bow out of Group A competition at Eden Park here.
“While they may have missed out on qualification to the knockout stages, they have achieved something greater,” Araneta stressed, “and that was to see the entire Filipino community in the Philippines and wherever they are around the world show their overwhelming support to the team.”
“We recognize the hard work and sacrifices this team have made to make our World Cup dream a reality,” the PFF chief and former national team standout added.
“Thank you very much to the entire Filipinas team, led by team manager Jefferson Cheng and head coach Alen Stajcic, you have made the Filipino nation immensely proud of this team. Maraming salamat, Filipinas!” Araneta exclaimed.
PFF general secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes echoed the same heartfelt and grateful sentiments, saying: “We are amazed at how the Philippine Women’s National Team became a beacon of hope and source of joy for every Filipino fan that supported the team during this historic World Cup campaign.
“We have also seen the outpouring of support from Filipinos all over the world as showed in the numerous watch parties in the Philippines and all over the globe.”
“While the team exits from the 2023 World Cup competition, their journey continues. Indeed, the heart and fighting spirit shown by the Filipinas will long be remembered in Philippine football history,” Gastanes underscored.
“So much thanks to team manager Jefferson Cheng and head coach Alen Stajcic for a wonderful job in pushing the team to a new level, one that will be etched in sporting history of the country,” he added.
One of eight teams debuting in the biggest showcase for women’s football, the Filipinas, who were also supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, made the most of the opportunity in setting new milestones.
The highlight was their stunning 1-0 upset of the hometown Ferns on July 25 at the Sky Stadium in Wellington.
Not only was it the country’s first World Cup win but it was also worth three points, transforming them into serious contenders of advancing to the knockout round until the last day of the Group A matches on Sunday.
Striker Sarina Bolden came through with a smashing header in the 24th minute for the nation’s first goal while talented and fearless goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel shared the spotlight in keeping the hosts at bay to earn Player of the Match honors, another first.
They also drew hordes of fans from the Philippines, all over the globe and New Zealand, making all of their three outings feel like a home game.
“It was a memorable day for the players and myself (for each game) and something we will never forget,” gushed Stajcic for the enthusiastic support from Filipino fans that went out of their way to cheer for them in Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland.