PHL Women’s football team stuns Australia in 2022 AFF Championship

Filipina booters dealt the Australian national team an upset. (AFC photo)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Philippine Women’s National Football Team is off to an excellent start in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship after upsetting the higher-ranked Australia, 1-0, during their opening match of the prestigious tournament.

All the hard work and the series of international preparatory friendly games paid off for the surging Filipinas after beating a team that has been consistent as a top 10 ranked nation.

The retooled and revamped PHL women’s national team showed heart and disciplined defense for 90 grueling minutes against the more experienced Australian team and did a tremendous job locking down their strikers who failed to find the back of the net in the whole stretch.

Australia had clear chances in drawing first blood after finding success in breaking the Filipina’s backline defense with their off-the-charts dribbling exhibition but a midgame adjustment from head coach Alen Stajcic changed the complexion of the game for good.

More aggressive in their one-on-one defense while sending help quicker in the elbows every time the Australians went for the attack, the Filipinas’ collective defensive effort helped them claw their way back into the game that also created their opportunities to score.

PHL’s golden moment came 14 minutes after the half-time whistle when striker Sarina Bolden sent in the lone goal of the match off a crisp long kick.

The goal gave the Filipinas the much-needed momentum and never let go of their lead until the final whistle was blown, seeing them climb up in their group with three points in their tally.

Despite sending in their under-23 squad in the tournament, the Australian national team was still tagged as the favorites to win the championship title.

“Obviously, an amazing result. The performance of the players was first class. To beat a team that has been ranked in the Top 10 for the last 10 years is just amazing,” said coach Stajcic.

The Filipinas will look to continue their stellar start in the AFF Women’s Championship as they are set to face Singapore today.

“For us to play like that is pleasing. The effort, the heart, the spirit in the team is amazing. From a coaching point of view, I couldn’t be any prouder,” added Stajcic.