Tahnai Annis (left) finds the net twice for the Philippines. —AFC
Coach Allen Stajcic can’t help but marvel at the pages of history the Philippine women’s football squad has been writing in the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup in Pune, India.
“The team just keeps on raising the bar,” Stajcic said after the Filipinos crushed Indonesia, 6-0, late Thursday evening at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex. “Every time you do something new and create a bit of history, it’s a new ceiling for the team and the country.”
And he can easily rattle off the ways the team keeps pushing that ceiling higher.
“The first bit of history was beating Thailand for the first time,” Stajcic said. “Now we’ve won two matches in the Asian Cup for the first time in history. I believe it’s the record score for us in an Asian Cup so that’s another bit of history.”
“And also I believe it’s our first time of the knockout stages of the Asian Cup,” he added.
Philippines in the 2022 AFC Asian Women’s Cup. —AFC
That last bit set the Philippines up for a shot at shattering that ceiling. And that shot is the reason why Stajcic and his warrior women aren’t resting on the accomplishments they’ve carved out so far.
“I know that we also have a goal in mind and we are not finished yet so we can’t get complacent from where we are,” said skipper Tahnai Annis, who logged two goals in the rout of the Indonesians. “But it’s also important to embrace how far we’ve come and all the things we’ve accomplished so far and take that and run with it.”
A year after the Philippines clinched its first Olympic medal through Hidilyn Diaz in women’s weightlifting, the Filipino women can write their own piece of history by landing the country in football’s grandest stage—the World Cup—for the first time.
They’ll need to summon the same fluidity and firepower that they flaunted against Indonesia when they face Chinese Taipei on Sunday. Aside from Annis’ two goals, the Philippines also found the back of the net courtesy of Katrina Guillou, Sarina Bolden, Jessica Miclat and Malea Cesar.
🎥 HIGHLIGHTS | 🇵🇭 Philippines 6-0 Indonesia 🇮🇩
Philippines throw themselves a lifeline after defeating another ASEAN side Indonesia to qualify to the #WAC2022 quarter-finals!#WAC2022 | #PHIvIDN pic.twitter.com/0vv4E2ib2Q
— #WAC2022 (@afcasiancup) January 28, 2022
Racking up six points in Group B, the Filipinos reached the quarterfinals after finishing at the second spot at 2-1-0 (win-loss-draw) behind leader Australia, which collected nine points at 3-0-0.
“For both teams it is pressure,” Stajcic said. “Chinese Taipei hadn’t been in the World Cup for so long. They were a superpower in the 80s and the early parts of women’s football, but they haven’t been at the World Cup for a long time and you know the Philippines have never been in one so every player in the field will have nerves and that’s normal.
“The team that handles the nerves better, will probably start better but that does not mean finishing better.”
And Annis is expected to be at the forefront of keeping the team calm as it pursues its place in Philippine sports history.
“What we’re trying to do is stay present in the moment and embrace all of the good things that are happening because of the hard work we put in and the preparations,” she said.
“And we’ve been able to get a lot more cohesive as a unit, as a team, as a whole staff and players together that we did not think we had before. And I think we all just appreciate that and that’s what got us to this point so far and everyone’s really excited and hopeful.”
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