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Herstory made: Thanks to Bolden, PH claims first FIFA Women's World Cup win over New Zealand

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GOLDEN BOLDEN. Sarina Bolden screamed her heart out after scoring the lone goal in the Philippines' 1-0 victory over 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup co-host New Zealand to keep their Round of 16 hopes alive. PHOTO: FIFA Women's World Cup/Facebook
Sarina Bolden had one request when interviewed after the Philippine women's national football team's (PWNFT) defeat to South Korea in the semifinals of the 2022 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup.
Bolden asked Filipinos to remember the then-Malditas after steering the Philippines to its first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup appearance.
"Philippines, you're gonna remember this team and you're gonna see us in the World Cup. So don't forget about us, cause we're coming back," the Santa Clara, California-born striker said.
More than a year later in Wellington, New Zealand, Bolden and the Filipinas, the new moniker of PWNFT, ensured they will never be forgotten.
Elating the Filipino community while breaking the hearts of the Kiwi hopefuls, Bolden headed home the game-winner for the Philippines' 1-0 victory against New Zealand in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup at Wellington Regional Stadium on Tuesday, July 25.
"I literally can't put it into words," Bolden said. "This has been a dream of mine as a little kid to just be here at the World Cup, let alone even score.
"I couldn't have done it without my teammates, the staff, the fans, the Philippines as a whole. It's just amazing right now to feel this win and this energy in this stadium right now, so it's just amazing." added Bolden to deflect all the credits.
Tears of joy fell as the Filipinas, the only Philippine national football squad to ever qualify for the World Cup so far, clinched the Southeast Asian side's first win in their maiden quadrennial meet appearance.
Loud and proud, the raucous Filipino crowd inside the venue and at the motherland joined the momentous celebrations, which PWNFT has brought since last year following their successful stint in the AFC Women's Asian Cup, SEA Games, and AFF Women's Championship.
Not only the Filipinas and its supporters can celebrate the monumental triumph but the fact that they remained in contention for a Round of 16 spot.
This, as later that day, the Switzerland-Norway match ended in a nil-nil draw, which left the door open for the four Group A nations to qualify for the next phase.
The Philippines improved their record to one win, one defeat, and zero draw with the hard-fought win over the World Cup co-host.
Currently, they're in third place as the Football Ferns had a 0 goal difference (GD) in contrast to the former's -1 as a result of their two-nil loss to Switzerland. (READ: FIFA Women's World Cup 2023: Debutant Filipinas absorbs defeat VS Switzerland)
Such only means the Filipinas are in a must-win situation in their last fixture against Norway on Sunday, July 30 (Manila time), at Eden Park in Auckland.
Beating the Norwegians is the best and safest thing to do for Philippine head coach Alen Stajcic and his company to avoid any possible implications.
With football's unpredictability, it is safe to say the Filipinas can win the Norway game or lose or draw just like what unfolded in Wellington.
Stajcic made no changes in the starting eleven he fielded to take on Jitka Klimkova's wards in the first half. The former Matildas coach changed the 3-5-2 formation he used against La Nati to 5-3-2, which is defense-oriented.
Klimkova, meanwhile, relied on the more balanced 4-4-2 formation.
Football Ferns were the more aggressive side in the early minutes of the opening half, not until the referee gave the Filipinas a free kick in the 23rd minute.
Recovering the ball from a cleared Angel Beard's delivery inside the box, Sara Eggesvik made New Zealand pay. Eggesvik recovered the deflected ball against Betsy Hassett, who she dropped to the ground. Then, the Fil-Norwegian midfielder cross found a tightly guarded Bolden from close range.
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Rising to the occasion, Bolden's header overpowered Kiwi goalkeeper Victoria Esson for the 46th-ranked Filipinas' 1-0 lead.
After the Bolden goal, the Philippines grew confident, eased the pressure, and settled down, while the Ferns desperately looked for an equalizer.
New Zealand dominated the ball possession and created several scoring chances for the entirety of the first 45 minutes. However, Philippine goalie Olivia McDaniel stood tall in the goal post, denying each of their potential game-tying strikes.
Returning after the halftime break, Kiwi women's national football team continued to attack the vaulted Filipino defense, keeping McDaniel and her defenders busy.
Similar to the first half, the Ferns possessed most of the ball but lacked clinical finishing to tie the match.
Jacqui Hand struck the post in the 64th minute with McDaniel retrieving the ball.
Four minutes later, New Zealanders appeared to even the scoreline with a Hand header, courtesy of Hannah Wilkinson, who dished the cross to her.
Unfortunately, the video assistant referee (VAR) review found Wilkinson a fraction offside, ruling the goal not counted – the cruelest blow to the trailing home team.
New Zealanders never gave up and remained in the offensive until the five-minute added time, producing two close attempts but McDaniel's stonewall goalkeeping prevented them from getting the share of points.
When the referee blew the whistle, McDaniel kicked the ball high and raised her hands, as the Philippines bench players and coaching staff sprinted to the field, enjoying the unbelievable moment with the valiant Filipina eleven. Filipinos in the stand let their cheers, yells, and chants echo in the air as the sons and daughters of the Pearl of the Orient celebrated.
"I've got everyone else's tears all over my eyes, it's so emotional," Stajcic said. "You saw how long New Zealand had to wait for its first win – six World Cups – and (for the Philippines) to get it today was incredible.
"We made our own luck but we also had a lot of luck. New Zealand were on the front foot the whole game and deserved something. But football is cruel sometimes."
Courageous, steady, and disciplined, McDaniel reaped the rewards of her stellar shot-stopping efforts after getting the Player of the Match plum.
McDaniel dedicated her personal achievement to Filipinos and the Philippines.
"Absolutely, (the award is) for the country. It's for the entire team. Being debutants in the World Cup, it can't be just for yourself, it's for everybody. Every single person helped fight for this, so it's not just a single person's win, it's everybody's," the 25-year-old said.
Despite the morale-boosting triumph, the Laguna Beach, California-born keeper said that she and the rest of the Filipinas want to achieve more in the World Cup.
"It feels amazing and hopefully, this isn't the last accolade we achieved. This isn't just me. This isn't just what I've done. This is what the team has done. This is what the coaching staff has done, everyone behind the scenes have done. We put in the work and we came out on top because of it. We can't stop. We've got much more work to do," she stated.
McDaniel is no stranger to nervous moments, as she saved two spot kicks during the Philippines' 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals of last year's AFC Women's Asian Cup, rewarding the nationals a direct ticket to the 2023 global showpiece.
On the other end, New Zealand still received salutes from their supporters.
Football Ferns will end their group stage campaign against Switzerland at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on the same day as the Norway-Philippines clash.

Last Modified: 2023-Jul-30 11.05.08 UTC+0800