AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Filipinas defender Hali Long described teammate Inna Palacios as among those having an important hand in the Philippines’ maiden run to the Fifa Women’s World Cup that didn’t come to an end without leaving a lasting impression on the global football scene.
Long said Palacios, who was not included in coach Alen Stajcic’s 23-player roster but was part of the team as a reserve, described her as someone who helped succeed in her role holding the captain’s armband during the dream three-game stint here.
“I couldn’t have done it without Inna by my side,” an emotional Long said after the Filipinas were eliminated from contention for the round-of-16 with a 6-0 loss to Norway. “She’s my best friend, she’s my partner [and] she’s my captain. My performance, everything I do is because of her.
“I wouldn’t be half the player I am now if she didn’t teach me what it means to be a silent leader, a Filipina, to play with grace, respect. So I couldn’t done it without her teaching me all of that,” added Long.
Palacios had played over 50 caps for the Philippines and was part of the team’s long road to the World Cup that started with the Asian Cup Qualifiers in 2021.
Long also made sure she would not forget the impact of former teammates such as Camille Rodriguez, Patrice Impelido, current team coordinator Belay Fernando-Dela Cruz, Marielle Benitez-Javellana and ex-coaches Let Dimzon and Buda Bautista.
“If we could leave anything, it’s all the stuff I’ve gotten from all of my teammates before, from Cam, from Patrice Impelido, to Belay Fernando who is here, everyone. All of them. They all had a part of this. And Marielle, coach Let and coach Buda Bautista,” Long said.
Benitez-Javellana and Fernando-Dela Cruz of past national teams prior to the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup when the country made the continental stage for the first time.
Impelido was part of that 2018 squad before having a stint as an assistant coach while Rodriguez was the bridge of that run and the improbable World Cup stint the Filipinas produced.
“They all have been a part of this journey, been a part of my journey and it really is all for them. They mean everything to me. I play for them each and every second I can and I would do it time and time again,” added Long.
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