Bolden the beautiful as Philippines delight in stunning upset
Amman: Philippines newcomer Sarina Bolden revealed her joy at scoring the decisive goal in her side’s opening day upset win over Jordan at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018.
In an international debut to cherish, Bolden’s 76th minute strike sealed the Malditas’ come-from-behind 2-1 win over the hosts, and potentially put the Southeast Asians within one win of the semi-finals and a first ever trip to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The 21-year-old, who plays her domestic football for Loyola Marymount University in the US college system, savoured her role in the Philippines’ history-making night in Amman.
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“It’s really, really exciting,” she said.
“It’s just so exciting to be a part of something so special and big. Not only am I playing for myself but I get to a play for a country which is a part of myself, and it’s so much bigger than playing for a college team or a club team.
“It means so much to me and I’m so glad that I’m able to be a part of something like this.”
A year ago, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup wasn’t on Bolden’s radar. While the Malditas were attempting to qualify for the tournament last April, the California-raised forward was attending a United States U-23 women’s national team training camp in Florida.
However, she came to the attention of former coach Richard Boon in late 2017 and quickly became one of several international recruits eligible to play for the national team by virtue of their Filipino heritage.
“It was kind of out of nowhere. I just knew someone that knew the head coach (Boon) and so I was able to go to a tryout,” said Bolden, whose mother hails from the Philippines.
“The coach liked me and I was able to get on the team. Every camp I just tried to do my best and now I’m just so glad I’m here and I’m able to make a difference.”
Few had predicted a Philippines victory on day one, and it appeared improbable when Maysa Jbarah gave Jordan the lead after a quarter of an hour, but the ability of Rabah Benlarbi’s side to remain composed proved crucial, according to Bolden.
“Even though we had that goal against us, we felt we were okay,” she explained, adding “we got everyone together and said ‘it’ll be okay, we still have a lot of time’ and we all took that to heart and believed it, and it paid off – we were able to get two goals and get the win.”
Defender Alexa Diaz shared Bolden’s sentiments, praising her side’s belief.
“We were confident in each other. I think that was the most important thing. Regardless of how Jordan came out, we were confident in one another, and it showed,” she said.
“It feels great. It’s such an honour to represent our country and to do this for our country, for the people, for our families and to do it with one another. It’s a remarkable feeling.”
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