The crazy night when the Malditas had Pinoy fans celebrating like crazy

For Philippine football fans, Jan. 30, 2022 was one crazy night. For Philippine football fans who are also fans of Rafael Nadal, Jan. 30, 2022 was one very, very crazy night.

A couple of hours after Pinoy fans went gaga online after Nadal fought from two sets down to beat Daniel Medvedev to win his record 21st Grand Slam trophy down under after five hours and change, it was the turn of the Malditas to set history—herstory–of their own, beating Chinese Taipei on penalties to advance to the semifinals of the AFC Asian Women’s Cup for the first time and the Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand for the first time.

THEY MADE IT. The girls who set history for Philippine football.

Though we dominated possession in the first half, it was Chinese Taipei that forced Oliva McDaniels to make a couple of save, while on the other end, our shots were barely a threat. Then early in the second half, Quinley Quezada, who one-timed the ball outside the box twice in the first half, somehow found the back of the net with a Hail Mary flicker of a shot.

Pandemonium.

And as the match went on, and while fans were entertaining thoughts of Olivia McDaniel having a third straight shutout, Zhou-Li Ping scored a wonder of a goal with her left from outside the box.

Then extra time and the shoot-out.

For fans who have stayed late watching their favorite clubs or teams advance late in the knockout stages of fan favorite competitions like the Champions League, Uefa or even the World Cup, it was a similar but different feeling.

Similar in the sense that we’ve been here with our favorite clubs but different because it’s the Philippines we’re rooting for in a shootout of a major competition. Substitutes Sara Castaneda and Tahnai Annis exchanged spot kicks with their counterparts to make it 2-2, but Jessica Miclat missed the third kick.

That brought me back 16 years when an English fan screamed, “Every bloody time!” when we saw England lose to Portugal via shootout in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals. So, that’s how it feels, I thought. But then something crazy happened. No, something really, really crazy happened that one couldn’t help but wonder if the football gods have a Filipina for a mother or grandmother.

Taiwan hit the bar in the fourth attempt. This is it pansit! I was screaming and so were the rest of the fans. But captain Hali Long’s potential equalizer was caught, giving Chinese Taipei another match-point so to speak.

And in a move that was perfectly made for a highlight reel, Taiwanese captain Su Sin-Hsin nonchalantly walked to the ad boards to pick the ball. In that moment that the camera caught her passing by McDaniel, who was jumping on her spot, I tell you the tension had me sitting and standing numerous times.

Was I sitting during the saves? Should I sit or stand to keep the luck going on?

There was no need for luck as McDaniel calmly collected the spot kick, going to her left. Then we waited who would take the final kick for us and I was expecting Sarina Bolden to do it. But then McDaniel got the ball.

Noooo! I screamed. Why? I don’t know. We just saw a made-for-TV moment by the Chinese Taipei captain ruined and I thought let’s not tempt the gods. The ref didn’t help matters when she made McDaniel wait a few seconds more.

WE WERE ALL FRANCIS. A video by Cebuano football fan Francis, who is in the UK, of the final spot kick. Listen to how heavy he was breathing. We were all Francis that night.

Gabgab Villacin, my football mind was going on overdrive. No, not the burly version who started for DLSU but the cute one who played for the Springdale U12s or was it U14s. There was a shootout when he made the final stop and the winning kick. Or perhaps I was remembering it wrong. But those were the thoughts that came to me in those seconds between McDaniel picking the ball and making the kick.

It still feels all too surreal

Mia Montayre, who has covered the women’s game–senior and age group–for close to a decade

After the kick, they were all forgotten. Cool as a cucumber, I think the commentator said after McDaniel made her kick. Then Bolden stepped up. We all know that she missed that early penalty against Indonesia but somehow I—and perhaps every one else—thought there was no way she would miss this.

A couple of kickers after we heard the commentator say how Su could send Chinese Taipei to the semis, he was saying the same for Bolden and she delivered. She quickly turned around, took a knee and punched the ground. I didn’t see that, I only saw it when I replayed the penalties minutes later as I—as did all who stayed up for the match—was jumping with joy.

We are in the World Cup! It’s happening in our lifetime! It’s South Korea next on Thursday for a spot in the semis. What’s going to happen? I don’t know. I haven’t had time to go down from that high in the quarterfinals.

A year from now, Pinoy football fans will have memorized every second of this highlight reel.
Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.