Katrina Guillou makes case in PH team debut

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) – Filipino French footballer Katrina Guillou is one of the new faces for the Philippine women's football team.

The 28-year-old defender made an impact in her first international cap as she almost gave the country's breakthrough goal in two tries during the first half of their upset 1-0 win over regional powerhouse Thailand in the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup on Friday.

Guillou scored a powerful right foot goal in the 12th minute from an Eva Madarang cross, but her shot was ruled offside by the referees.

"I wasn't convinced that was an offside but after seeing the replays, I understood. It was the right decision by the referee," Guillou shared on Saturday.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington standout had another chance for a goal in the 28th minute with a long kick from a counter-attack, but the ball went above the box as it was chased by Thai goalie Waraporn Boonsing.

"The keeper was like she was cheating to one side so I just tried to hit it over and I was watching the ball and as soon as it hit the cusp, I was like ugh another one," Guillou said.

Guillou (left) makes her Philippine national team debut on their 1-0 upset win over Thailand in the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup.

Her teammate Chandler McDaniel delivered the much-needed goal in the 81st minute, which completed the stunning victory and boosted everyone's confidence - including Guillou.

"We really trust and believe in each other as a team and followed what coaches had laid out for us leading up to this point. It was just great knowing that after 90 plus minutes, everything paid off for that one moment," she said. "Of course, making a little piece of history, it's always a good feeling."

The victory was the first by the world no. 64 Filipinas against the world no. 38 Thais in recent memory in an international football tournament.

Guillou said one of the factors for their upset win is good team chemistry and the influence brought by new head coach Alen Stajcic.

"I think he's done a great job at explaining how things should work. It makes it pretty more relaxing, knowing that he has confidence in us. He gave me more confidence on what I can do in the field, especially on and off the ball or attacking in defensively," she said.

The Filipino French footballer also appreciated how her fellow national team players welcomed her warmly to the squad, despite her entering their California training camp late due to her commitments with Swedish club Pitea IF.

The Washington DC-born Guillou, whose mother is a Filipina, was recruited to the national team after she sent to the Philippine Football Federation two years ago her highlight reel when she was still playing with another Swedish pro team Moron BK.

As she relishes her first tournament with the Philippine women's football team, Guillou said she hopes the confidence instilled to her will rub off with the team trying to clinch a historic first World Cup berth for the country.

"I'm excited, nervous, and curious. I wanna see how the game goes and our team does. If we still believe on ourselves and we put our best foot forward no matter what the outcome is, we're all gonna be happy," Guillou said.