Chandler McDaniel, Katrina Guillou, Hali Long and the national women’s football team couldn’t hide their elation after a historic victory over Thailand to kick off the campaign in Group B of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
McDaniel’s winning goal in the 81st minute allowed the Philippines to beat its Southeast Asian neighbor for the first time after 13 tries while enhancing the chances of securing qualification in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I think that we had the same goal and we all knew that if we wanted to compete for a spot in the World Cup that this was the first game,” McDaniel said after the match held Friday, Jan. 21 in Navi Mumbai, India.
“I think that everyone on the team was really excited about this game and we really brought it, and I know that we really wanted to beat them and I think that we’ve worked together and we got the win,” she added.
The striker was one of many players who stood out in the win.
Guillou nearly put the Philippines in front 13 minutes after the opening whistle when she volleyed McDaniel’s cross into the back of the net.
The linesman, however, flagged her for an offside, negating what would have been a sensational opener for the Pinay booters.
“I wasn’t convinced that was an offside but after seeing the replays, I understand. It was the right decision by the referee,” she said the day after the game with local football beat writers.
But the missed chance didn’t deter Guillou from playing splendidly for the Philippine side which also contributed to the result.
“Going into the game, everyone was confident. We really trusted and believed in each other and kinda followed what the coaches had laid out for us, leading us to this point, and it was just great that after 90-plus everything paid off for one moment. And also making a piece of history, it’s always a great feeling,” Guillou later said.
The breakthrough win made it more sweeter for Long, who turned 27 on the day of the match.
Long has been a mainstay since 2016 and endured close defeats against the Thais in the past, and she couldn’t help but reflect on the result.
“It was very surreal because I’ve been playing them since my very first campaign,” the center back said. “It’s always been close and we even got to the point where we were ahead at some point but still didn’t win the games.
“So this is huge for Philippine women’s football. I hope it could be a stepping stone towards a progressive path that we can have,” Long added.
The team is now in the midst of shifting full focus on a big game Monday against Australia, considered as one of the top women’s sides in the world.
“We are all very excited to play against Australia. They are one of the best teams in the world. For me, it’s a dream come true to play against them and I know my team is going to give it our all and compete,” McDaniel said.
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