Filipinas seek to extend magical run in clash with Japanese
The Filipinas are relishing another historic feat after reaching the women’s football quarterfinals of the 19th Asian Games (Asiad) in Hangzhou, China.
And their reward for that is facing powerhouse Japan, a challenge that the team is embracing.
“I’m grateful to be part of this opportunity,” new coach Mark Torcaso said after Thursday’s 3-0 win over Myanmar at the conclusion of group play at Wenzhou Sports Center Stadium. “And now we progress to the next stage, which is excellent.”
Heavy underdogs in the 7:30 p.m. match at the same venue Saturday, the Filipinas have the odds stacked against them opposite a Japanese side that won all of its three matches in Group D.
That is despite Japan not having the same squad that reached the quarterfinals of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, when it flirted with a possible title run behind Hinata Miyazawa only to fall to Sweden.
Japan scored 23 goals in the group stage while conceding none. Five players, Remina Chiba, Maya Hijikata, Haruka Osawa, Yuzuho Shiokoshi and Momoko Tanikawa, have scored two goals each.
But it was Japan which also gave the Philippines a better chance at qualifying after it blasted Vietnam, 7-0, also Thursday.
The result relegated Vietnam out of the running for the three best second placers slot, which the Philippines got by beating Myanmar.
Sarina Bolden’s opener, a record-extending 25th international goal from the penalty spot, and a brace from Sara Eggesvik did the job, as the Filipinas placed second in Group E while having a better goal differential than Vietnam.
“The girls executed a good game plan,” said Torcaso. “We set ourselves to score in this game and we scored very well and we were excellent.”
“It could have been anyone of us [who scored] but I’m glad to be on the scoresheet,” Eggesvik said.
What made it doubly sweet was that the Filipinas reached the last eight at the expense of Myanmar, which defeated them during the first game of the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, with a 1-0 loss that came after a late penalty eventually costing them a semis berth.