After bowing out in women’s football at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, the Filipinas are returning home with their pride intact and their heads held high.
An 8-1 defeat against Japan late Saturday dashed all hopes of the Filipinas advancing to the semis at the Wenzhou Sports Centre here.
But the Filipinas – down to 17 players prior to the match – took the loss in stride, considering that the Japanese are the reigning champions here and are ranked No. 8 in the world.
This came after a victory over Hong Kong, a loss to the 2018 bronze medalist South Korea, and another win against Myanmar, sending the Filipina to the Last 8.
It’s the first time in 65 years that a Philippine football team has reached that far in the Asian Games.
Team manager Jeff Cheng said they knew what to expect here in Hangzhou.
“It was a tough tournament, with a lot of new things to deal with and adjust to. A new tournament with a different setup, new coaches for us, a new team for our coaches,” he said.
“What we were ready for, we gave our best. Anywhere we could have done better, we acknowledge, analyze, and improve for the next time.”
The Philippine Football Federation, headed by Mariano Araneta, hailed the Filipinos for yet another milestone, which came two months after a historic debut in the FIFA World Cup.
“We will continue to grow,” said Araneta.
The Filipinas, led by Sarina Bolden, are under a new coach in Mark Torcaso but have shown great promise under a new system.
“I give credit to the players. Regardless of the final score or how we got there, in every match, they leave no room for anyone to doubt their will to give their best for the team and for the country,” said Cheng.
Bolden scored the lone goal for the Filipinas in the 68th minute by heading home a corner from Sara Eggesvik, trimming the deficit to 3-1. It was the first goal conceded by Japan here.
Five starters on the Philippine team had left Hangzhou before the game against Japan to return to their respective clubs.