Photo from AFC

The dream of making the FIFA Women’s World Cup became a reality for the national women’s football team after a pulsating 4-3 victory over Taiwan via a dramatic penalty shootout Sunday, Jan. 30 in the quarterfinals of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Staring at defeat during the pulsating shootout, keeper Olivia McDaniel kept things alive with a couple of crucial saves before Sarina Bolden’s goal secured the Pinay booters’ historic achievement held in Pune, India

Dramatic scenes were witnessed by a select few inside the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex plus thousands who had to stay up even after midnight struck back home as coach Alen Stajcic achieved what no other Philippine team had in the past.

No national football squad — men’s, women’s or even on the youth level — reached the unreachable goal until this group of players made waves in the continental tournament.

But the Filipinas had to do it the hard way as regulation and extra time ended with the match evened at 1-1. The World Cup was almost in their grasp after Quinley Quezada, who had missed two goals due to COVID-19 protocols, struck the opener in the 49th.

But a left-footed strike by Zhou Li-Ping in the 83rd, which McDaniel nearly deflected, took the air out of the Philippine squad.

It appeared that the Philippines will be relegated to a three-team repechage to determine the fifth and last World Cup slot when Taiwan took a 3-2 lead after Jessica Miclat and Hali Long missed their attempts.

Su Sin-Yun could have sealed it for the Taiwanese on their fifth attempt, but McDaniel easily got the weak shot in her gloves.

Curiously, McDaniel was given the chance to extend the shootout, which she did by converting the kick for a 3-3 count. Then, she went back behind goal and made sure that Zhou wouldn’t score this time.

That set things up for Bolden, who had several chances to score since the start of the match but couldn’t find the back of the net. She would convert the winner with ease and a ticket to FIFA’s premier event was confirmed.

Lost in the incredible moment was the Filipinas’ place in the semifinals where they’ll face South Korea on Thursday.

South Korea, Japan and China also secured World Cup berths in earlier quarterfinal matches.

The South Koreans stunned World Cup co-host Australia with a 1-0 win, Japan moved closer towards a third straight Asian Cup after a 7-0 thrashing of Thailand while China came back to produce a 3-1 win over Vietnam.

Source: Manila Bulletin (