Filipinas earn their part in Women’s World Cup storyline, prove they can hold their own vs world’s best
The group stage of the ongoing Fifa Women’s World Cup has been quite a ride, filled with twists and turns that have seen perceived minnows do magical things and a few perennial contenders surprisingly being shown the door.
The Filipinas can take pride in being part of that storyline.
“It’s great,” Katrina Guillou said during a meet and greet session with media and fans at an Adidas store in Makati City on Thursday, when The Inquirer asked her about the Filipinas being among the underdog stories in the biggest showpiece for women’s football.
Guillou and the Filipinas even flirted with the possibility of doing the unthinkable: Making the round-of-16 despite low expectations as one of eight debutants in the World Cup.
A 1-0 win over New Zealand, a landmark outcome, gave the Filipinas that opportunity, but the dream came to an end with a 6-0 pounding handed to them by former champion Norway.
Once the World Cup ends, the Filipinas’ campaign will be among those to be remembered, one of the incredible runs that included fairy-tale performances from Jamaica and South Africa, who both reached the knockout phase.
Jamaica, brandishing perhaps the coolest moniker in the tournament—The Reggae Girlz, played pragmatic in battling the great Marta and Brazil to a scoreless draw, enough to get out of Group F and eliminate the traditional football power from South America.
South Africa’s 3-2 triumph over Italy in Group G sent the team known as the Banyana Banyana into the last 16 for the first time in two World Cup appearances.
It was not just Brazil that had a stunning early exit, with Olympic champion Canada also missing out on the next phase and cohost Australia and defending champion United States barely advancing.
“I think it’s a testament to how hard the team has been working. We accepted the challenge and we put our best foot forward and it really took everything for us,” said Guillou, whose nullified goal against Switzerland due to an offside, she said, proved that the team can be “a threat.”
The Filipinas also showed they could hold their own against the biggest names in their sport, like Switzerland’s Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, New Zealand’s Ramona Bachmann and Lia Walti, Hannah Wilkinson, Jacqui Hand and Ali Riley and Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen, Sophia Roman Haug and Frida Maanum.
“Honestly, going into the games, I don’t think about it too much about who my opponent is,” said defender Sofia Harrison, who faced a lot of quality players. “I try to go into the game with the same mentality, making sure I’m doing my part.
“And then after the game, I look back and say ‘I marked Hannah Wilkinson.’ So it’s definitely cool and crazy to see that we can compete against players like that,” she added.