Sarina Bolden relishes doing the unforgettable at home | Inquirer Sports
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Sarina Bolden relishes doing the unforgettable at home

Philippine players celebrate a goal against Vietnam during the Women's Asian Football Federation (AFF) semi-final match at the Rizal memorial colliseum in Manila on July 15, 2022.

Sarina Bolden celebrate a goal against Vietnam during the Women’s Asian Football Federation (AFF) semi-final match at the Rizal memorial colliseum in Manila on July 15, 2022. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

Sarina Bolden feels that the Philippine women’s football team has truly cemented its place in the consciousness of local sporting fans following the Filipinas’ remarkable title run in the recent Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship.

“I think the Philippines definitely has a reason to remember us even more,” Bolden, the talismanic hero and perhaps the team’s emotional leader, said a day after the Filipinas’ title-clinching 3-0 victory over regional heavyweight Thailand.

Bolden’s remark was in response to something she said after the campaign in the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup in India, the same tournament that saw the Philippines qualify for the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

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The Filipinas had been booted out by South Korea in the semifinal of the continental tournament, but an emotional Bolden said that it was just the start of something special.

“Philippines, you’re gonna remember this team and you’re going to see us in the World Cup,” she said after that February match. “So don’t forget about us, because we’re coming back.”

She and the rest of the ladies did come back in a big way. A bronze medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam last May turned out to be the lead-up to a more memorable feat.

Playing in front of home fans at Rizal Memorial Stadium, the Filipinas became champions of Southeast Asia for the first time at the expense of four-time winner Thailand before a crowd of 8,257.

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Bolden may also have established herself as the most popular player on the team.

She scored eight times during the two-week event, including a hat trick in a 4-1 triumph over Indonesia in the group stage. Bolden also found the mark in the knockout stage, scoring twice late in the semis before having a late goal in the final to cap the victory in style.

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Winning the title on home soil has a special feeling for Bolden.

“You know, it’s one thing to qualify for the World Cup, you know [playing] abroad, which is such a big, historic thing,” she said.

“But I think it’s also another thing to like, win a tournament in the Philippines … just because we’re here in the country, people supporting us, people can see us, people can see that, ‘Oh, wow, this team really does have something special.’

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“So I’m glad that we were able to make a stance and really show people in person like what we’re all about, in the Philippines.”

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