A huge moment for Philippine football and women

By Joshua Corcuera

Last January 30, the Philippine women’s national football team—the Malditas—defeated higher-ranked Chinese Taipei, 1-1 after extra time and 4-3 on penalties. This match was one of the four quarter-final matches of the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Consequently, the Malditas marched on to the semi-finals and, more importantly, secured qualification to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

I watched the match which started at 10 PM, Philippine time, until it ended three hours later. Normally, football matches last for at least 90 minutes—but the face-off of the Malditas with Chinese Taipei was a tight one. Though the Philippine side dominated statistics from ball possession to attempts on goal, the opponents were aggressive and threatening on their counter-attacks. Yet, the first half ended scoreless.

When the second half started, it would not be long after the Malditas opened the scoreline thanks to Quezada in the 49th minute. From that point, the opposing side became more aggressive, forcing the Malditas to defend sternly. As the clock ticked down, Zhuo of Chinese Taipei managed to strike out from nowhere, equalizing the scoreline in the 82nd minute.

The scoreline did not change until the 90th minute. Additional 30 minutes of extra time were played, but the score did not change as well. The players went to penalties.

Chinese Taipei took the penalties first. The opponents scored their first attempt, and so did the Malditas. Same story with the second attempt of both teams. Then came the third which Chinese Taipei scored, but the Malditas failed to convert. Chinese Taipei missed the fourth, but the Malditas also failed to score. At this point, the opponents lead 3-2—just one goal away from victory.

The fifth penalty shot of Chinese Taipei could have sent them to victory, only for Su to miss. The Philippine goalkeeper managed to score the fifth penalty of the Malditas to tie the penalties at 3-3. The Malditas lived for another day.

Then, Chinese Taipei’s sixth penalty was saved. The Philippines scored its sixth and has secured a place in the World Cup. The match was tight, and it made me anxious; still, it was worth it to stay up until 1 in the morning to witness a historic moment for Philippine football and women.

In a nation dominated by men and sports with intense physical contact, such as basketball and boxing, the victory of the national team highlights the need for Filipinos to further support Philippine athletes. There are a lot of sports where fellow Filipinos could excel and shine brightly.

There are some criticisms surrounding the Malditas, however. One critic said that some players of the national team are naturalized or are born with one foreign parent (e.g. Fil-Am player). These criticisms, however, must remember that what is essential is that such players proudly represent our nation on the regional stage. After all, the Philippines is home to more than 109 million people that is so diverse; thus, we must respect and accept our differences.

On February 3, the Malditas would face South Korea in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup.