Filipinas team captain Tahnai Annis admitted that a huge chunk of credit for their success in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship must go to the Filipino football faithful.

Filipino football fans, led by Ultras Filipinas, cheer for the Philippine women’s national football team during their finals showdown against Thailand at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last July 17. (MB Photo / Ali Vicoy)

Through thick and thin, despite the rainy weather and muddy waters that they have to endure, the fans continued to support the Filipinas and became witnesses of a historic feat for the sport.

Led mostly by a well-known group called “Ultras Filipinas,” the Rizal Memorial Stadium was filled with supporters — from the bleachers to the shaded spectator area — who wouldn’t stop shouting the famous “Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé” chant and screaming from the top of their lungs.

More than 8,000 spectators graced the iconic venue in the Filipinas’ 3-0 win against the Thais. It saw significant growth from some thousand and two thousand fans who watched the games throughout the group stage.

“It was amazing and I don’t think we would have, honestly, dominated the way that we did without the fans,” said the 33-year-old Annis. “It’s really a presence to have. So much support behind us and really just to kinda see how the support just kept growing with each game.

“It was really amazing to have everyone out there and supporting us and going crazy the whole time. It only lifts us up more,” added the Filipino-American midfielder, who used to play professional football in Iceland.

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During the group stage, the spectator count only hit less than a thousand twice when the Filipinas played against Singapore (647) and Malaysia (429).

The rest of the matches saw a Filipino crowd in frenzy, bringing their own props, banners, and merchandise, to boldly show their support for the Philippine women’s national football team.

Take it as another historic moment for the Philippine football scene coming from a basketball-crazy country.

Even long-time national team member Hali Long, 27, firmly believes that the fans became the “12th man that we needed to push us, to be able to succeed.”

For goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel, nothing could be more humbling and monumental than bringing pride and glory to the Philippines.

“It (the championship) means more that we got to do it in front of home crowd and in front of our families, in front of everyone,” said the 24-year-old McDaniel.

“It’s very humbling. Bringing the trophy and a win, I think that really was our goal,” added the Filipino-American goalie, who suited up for the Cal State Fullerton Titans and the Milwaukee Panthers in the collegiate scene.

The Filipinas would love to play one more time with the home crowd and this is actually just the beginning of their journey as they brace for the 2023 FIFA World Cup.

While more friendlies are set to prepare the nationals, Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta earlier bared that the organization is eyeing to hold a four-nation tournament here in the Philippines once more.

The Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan and the New Clark City Stadium in Capas, Tarlac were being considered as possible venues and expect the Ultras Filipinas to be there and make some noise for the national team.

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Source: Manila Bulletin (