AUCKLAND, New Zealand—While the attention has mostly been on the heroics of striker Sarina Bolden and goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel in giving the Philippines a historic first win in the Fifa (International Association Football Federation) Women’s World Cup, an unheralded defender did a lot of the silent work and is ready to do it again.
That momentous 1-0 victory over New Zealand in group play last Tuesday in Wellington was also aided by stellar work on the back, particularly of Angie Beard, who in her second game for the Philippines was vital in making sure that the Filipinas fended off the Football Ferns in the stretch.
“It’s not something I thought would be in the cards for me,” said Beard, who became part of coach Alen Stajcic’s side after switching allegiances from Australia’s Matildas to the Filipinas.
Beard already had three international appearances after making her debut in 2021, before a chance to play for the Philippines presented itself.
Fifa rules allow players to make a change, provided they have only played in friendlies coupled with approval from the world governing body. The Australian-born Beard’s mother hails from Cebu.
“It’s crazy just to think of what I’ve been doing last year compared to what I’ve been doing this year. It’s insane,” she said.
In two games for the Filipinas, Beard, who will turn 26 in about two weeks, has provided additional toughness to an already solid back crew that has cocaptain Hali Long, Jessika Cowart and Sofia Harrison.
And the Filipinas showed that against New Zealand when they kept the home side frustrated after Bolden had produced that magical header in the 24th minute.
“I have actually played most of [the New Zealand players] in the A-League and in my career, so there’s really not much of a difference,” said Beard, who after the game exchanged jerseys with the Football Ferns’ Indiah-Paige Riley, another ex-Matilda who decided to join New Zealand.
“But for the team, I guess we’ve been working on keeping strong, making sure that we prepare ourselves well against these individual players,” she added.
Beard will again be key on Sunday when the Filipinas look to put up a much sbetter performance in a crunch Group A duel with Norway with a possible spot in the round-of-16 on the line.
“We look at our last game, hopefully win our last game, hopefully get out of our group and we just go from there,” said Beard. INQ
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