MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine women's national football team continues to make history, most recently at the 31st Southeast Asian Games where they won the country's first football medal in 37 years.
The Filipinas roared back from a 0-1 deficit against Myanmar in the bronze medal match, with Sarina Bolden and Quinley Quezada scoring two goals in the span of three minutes to snatch the victory for the country.
Their gritty comeback earned praise from head coach Alen Stajcic, who noted: "It was the best performance we had in this tournament."
"We showed amazing heart and spirit to the death to get the win. It was a performance to be proud of," said Stajcic.
The result was especially sweet as the Filipinas pulled off a reversal of their bronze medal match against Myanmar in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila. Three years ago, Quezada gave the Philippines a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, only for Myanmar to score two goals in quick succession in the 78th and 80th.
This time around, the Filipinas were on the winning end of a comeback. Bolden equalized in the 73rd minute, converting a fine finish off a through ball by Carleigh Frilles. Three minutes later, she laid the ball off for Quezada who curled in the winner.
"We look this as our first medal in the SEA Games as a big achievement for the group. We are a new team playing at this level and competing against Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar so we’re going to have ups and downs," Stajcic said.
"We still have a long way to go and get to their level," he added. "But tonight we showed we can compete with these three teams in Southeast Asia."
"If we keep on improving, next time I'll expect a better medal."
The Filipinas also drew praise from officials of the Philippine Football Federation, who hailed the continued progress being made by the team. This was already the second historic result reached by the PWNFT in 2022; earlier this year, they qualified to the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time ever by reaching the semifinals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022.
"We have seen how the Filipinas embraced the never-say-die attitude in their SEA Games campaign which culminated in a first bronze medal after so many years," PFF secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastanes said. "We owe it all to the hard work and sacrifice of everyone involved in the team leading up to this moment."
"This feat shows how far our Women’s National Team has become from an emerging football minnows to perennial contenders not only in Southeast Asia but also in Asia overall," he added.
PFF president Mariano "Nonong" Araneta expressed his hope that the progress will continue as the team prepares for next year's Women's World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
It's a sentiment shared by team manager Jefferson Cheng who assured that the team will continue to get the support it needs.
"We are on track with our program to further improve and bring success to this team and the country," he said.