By Crisdenmar dela Cruz


After a tedious trek, we have arrived at the peak: the semifinal matches between the Philippines and powerhouse teams South Korea, China, and Japan in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup are set to kick off Thursday night.
As the 2023 FIFA World Cup ticket is officially booked to the semifinalists, we're going to take a closer look at the nations that will compete for the right to be called the best football squad in Asia.

The round marks the Philippines’ debut after nosing out the gallant Chinese Taipei via penalty shootout, 1-1(4-3), proving to be the tourney's Davids among the Final Four teams.

The Malditas will aim to surmount another mountain that is South Korea, who stunned top-ranked Australia, 1-0 in their own quarterfinals match.

The Koreans (18th) had secured their fourth World Cup appearance while the Philippines (64th) relied on a Cinderella run to pocket their first-ever World Cup ticket.

The last clash between the two teams was the battle for fifth place in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan, wherein the Taegeuk Ladies demoralized the Malditas, 5-0, and snatched the last ticket to the biggest stage.

Now is the Malditas' shot to redeem themselves for a maiden championship berth. Will another curse of Korea be broken, or will the Filipina strikers succumb anew to SoKor's hot winning streak?

Meanwhile, the World's No. 13 Japan eyes for its third straight title after trouncing 2018 AFC third runner-up Thailand, 7-0, while China, also known as the Steel Roses, seized Vietnam at 3-1 to face the Japanese in the semis.

The two successful nations will lock horns on Thursday night after the Philippine-SoKor bout.

The last clash between the Ancients and Modern Giants of Asia was the 2018 AFC semifinal match wherein Nadeshiko blitzed the Steel Roses, 3-1.

Will Nadeshiko repeat history and seal the three-peat dream? Or, will the Steel Roses dominate with revenge served after their 2018 semis loss?

With Australia being the host country, they are already qualified for the World Cup. This leaves Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand locked in a single round-robin repechage. The best record in this country will book the last ticket to the world stage.

But the main question remains: how will the Philippine Malditas - the Davids of the competition - find themselves in the Women's Asian Cup picture? Will their miracle run continue to work wonders against the Goliaths in SoKor, China, and Japan? Shall we witness a new queen of Asian football? All the answers shall unfold in no time. 

Edited by Jostle Doen Pilayre