MANILA: Hundreds of Philippine football fans celebrated wildly and some cried after the country’s historic first World Cup win on Tuesday (Jul 25).
The unfancied Filipinas stunned co-hosts New Zealand 1-0 in Wellington, triggering celebrations more than 8,000km away.
Elated supporters watching the match live on a big screen in the UP Town Center shopping mall in the capital Manila erupted in screams and songs. Some cried tears of joy.
“Oh my God, I am so emotional about our first-ever World Cup win,” said Bethany Talbot, 21, as she stood in front of a large poster of goalscorer Sarina Bolden.
“I know all the other girls out there, all the girls, all feel the same. I feel like I’m speechless right now, but I’m so over the moon.”
Fans, many wearing the national team’s blue, white and red, shouted, hugged and jumped up and down with excitement when Bolden headed the ball into the net in the first half.
That left supporters in the air-conditioned mall jittery with nerves as they watched New Zealand come excruciatingly close in the second half to levelling the score.
Football is not nearly as popular as basketball or boxing in the Philippines, and most of the players on the women’s national team have been recruited from the country’s large diaspora.
But for Filipino fans at UP Town Center, this victory was special.
“It’s always been a dream to play in the World Cup. But winning, winning the first game is surreal,” said Christopher Andrew Datu, 40.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s like telling the Philippines that ‘you can do it, you can do it Philippines, you can play football, you belong to the world’.”
Minds were already turning to Sunday’s game against Norway, with the Philippine Football Federation urging fans to show their support.
“THE FIGHT IS NOT YET OVER,” it said on Facebook.