By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Philippine women’s football squad completed a first-round sweep of the 2023 Olympic qualifying tournament after blanking Hong Kong, 4-0, last April 11, 2023, held at the Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan.
After a masterclass against Pakistan and Tajikistan during their first two games, the Filipinas ended their first-round campaign in style after dominating Hong Kong on both ends of the floor.
The Filipinas only needed five minutes to draw first blood courtesy of a tremendous opening found by superstar striker Sarina Bolden.
As goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel reset their offensive possession after a scramble on the other end, Bolden took matters into her own hands and sprinted towards Hong Kong’s penalty area, cruising past Hong Kong’s last two defenders to pull off PHL’s first goal.
Hong Kong would then respond with a tighter defensive adjustment by doubling the Filipinas’ offensive strikers whenever they generated their offense on the left side of the pitch.
However, Hong Kong’s great defensive stance was put to a halt after Bolden scored her brace in the 41st minute after a crisp right-footed conversion.
Sara Eggesvik made her brace possible after a well-calculated through ball that just stopped perfectly when Bolden got her balance coming from a full-speed sprint.
Three minutes after the Bolden Brace, the Filipinas sent an early exclamation point when they ballooned their lead to 3-0, thanks to a goal from Meryll Serrano.
Quinley Quezada then put on the finishing touches for the Filipinas after scoring their fourth and final goal at the 53rd-minute mark.
With the win, the PHL women’s national football team will end the first round as the first-placers in Group E with nine impressive points.
After their undefeated campaign in Tajikistan, the Filipinas will only have a short period of time to rest before the 2023 Southeast Asian Games kick-off.