Filipinos stayed up to watch the women's national football team compete in the quarterfinal of the AFC Women's Asian Cup, and they were rewarded with a historic, unforgettable victory.
The Philippine women's national team secured a thrilling 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 a.e.t.) triumph against a higher-ranked Chinese-Taipei squad on Sunday night at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.
It was a pulsating victory that saw the Philippines give up a wonder goal to Chinese Taipei's Zhuo Li-Ping eight minutes after Quinley Quezada broke the deadlock in the 48th minute. They fell behind, 2-3, in the penalty shootout before Olivia McDaniel sandwiched a sensational spot kick between two saves to keep the Philippines in the hunt.
Sarina Bolden then converted the winning penalty, atoning for her miss against Indonesia in the group stages and finally finding the back of the net after several misses in regulation.
The triumph assured the Philippines of a spot in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 -- the country's first-ever appearance in that stage.
"I'm just running out of superlatives to describe what an amazing achievement this is," Philippines coach Alen Stajcic said afterward, having steered the team to the Women's World Cup despite taking over just last October.
Praise poured in for the Filipinas from all corners of the globe, with the football community at home leading the way.
Former Philippine Azkals team captain Rob Gier called the match "the most important game in Philippine football history," and celebrated when the Filipinas clinched their spot to the Women's World Cup.
Current skipper Stephan Schrock and other members of the men's team also expressed their delight at the team's achievement. Kaya FC, which features Inna Palacios, Hali Long, and Camille Rodriguez in their roster, were similarly ecstatic. Former members of the team, led by ex-captain Marielle Benitez, could not contain their emotions.
Filipino athletes from different sports were also in awe of the team's feat, especially after an exhausting 120-minute battle and a nervy shootout.
And Hidilyn Diaz, who knows a thing or two about making the country proud through sports, said that the Filipinas' performance brought a tear to her eye.
"Nakakaiyak," she said on Instagram. "Nakaka-proud, at nakakaiyak talaga makita ito, kasi nakita ko ang saya ng mga athletes noong nag-goal."
"Ramdam ko ang love nila sa sports at 'yung ginagawa nila ang best nila... Priceless. Salamat sa magandang balita. Salamat for bringing pride to our country," she said.
The job is still not finished for the Filipinas, however, as they are set to play world No. 18 South Korea in the semifinals on Thursday, still in Pune, India.