Sarina Bolden, Filipinas top Australia in AFF Women's Championship opener | Inquirer Sports
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Sarina Bolden, Filipinas top Australia in AFF Women’s Championship opener

Filipinas football team in their first game in the Hanoi SEA Games. AFFPresse via VFF

Filipinas football team in their first game in the Hanoi SEA Games. AFFPresse via VFF

MANILA, Philippines—Playing on home soil for the first time since the historic qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Philippines gifted its supporters with a victory as Sarina Bolden’s second-half goal defeated Australia, 1-0, on Monday to open the AFF Women’s Championship at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Bolden continued to produce big moments for the Filipinas when she delivered the eventual winner in the 60th minute off Eva Madarang’s throw-in, delighting a small but enthusiastic audience who braved the evening rain throughout the cagey contest that capped off the start of the pandemic-delayed regional championship.

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The scoreline stood until the final whistle, and coach Alen Stajcic’s side ended up getting the maximum three points at the expense of Australia, which fielded mostly the core of its U-23 side.

Even if it was not the Australian roster that’s known to compete on the world stage, Stajcic described the result as a huge development for his Philippine squad that continues to hone its skills before next year’s World Cup.

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“That’s more than a big win,” Stajcic said. “To beat a team that has been in the top 10 in the world for the last 10 years is amazing. Maybe they don’t have some of their key players, but it’s an international fixture and you have to beat whoever’s out there.

“And for us to beat them, that shows how far this team has come. First game of the tournament and a long way to go,” added the Filipinas’ Australian coach.

The result gave the Philippines a positive approach in its aim to secure a semifinals berth as one of the two best teams in Group A.

The Filipinas are level at three points with Thailand, which blew past Indonesia with a 4-0 win in Biñan, Laguna.

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TAGS: AFF Women's Championship, Filipinas, Sarina Bolden
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