Philippines coach Alen Stajcic is backing his Women’s World Cup debutants to “crash the party” when they play co-hosts New Zealand on Tuesday.
New Zealand are on a high after beating Norway 1-0 in the tournament opener to end a 15-game winless streak at Women’s World Cups dating back to 1991.
The Philippines lost 2-0 to Switzerland in their first game at the finals in New Zealand and Australia but proved to be no pushovers.
A capacity crowd is expected in Wellington, with most cheering on the home side, but the Australian Stajcic said Monday: “You have to block all that out and embrace it.
“It’s a brilliant occasion, so to be playing in front of such a big crowd and TV audience is a really special moment.
“You have to go out there and give it your best shot, so as motivating as it will be for New Zealand, it is for our team as well.”
Since Stajcic’s appointment as coach in 2021, the Philippines have jumped from 68 in the FIFA rankings to their current best-ever placing of 46th.
Their surge began with the Women’s Asian Cup last year when they made the semi-finals, losing to South Korea but securing a historic World Cup berth.
New Zealand ran out 2-1 winners over the Philippines in a friendly last September, but Stajcic said the close defeat helped his team develop.
“I think that game was a real turning point for me to know that we can rise to this level,” he said.
“We want to crash the party. It’s not really their party – it’s everyone’s, ours as well.
“Football in all our countries is not number one – in the Philippines, New Zealand or Australia – so we need to do everything we can to bolster support for women’s football.”
Although the majority in the stadium on Tuesday will be behind the Football Ferns, the Philippines team can expect plenty of their own support in Wellington. New Zealand has a large Filipino community.
“It’s been exciting knowing that even in these games, a few hours’ plane ride from Manila, to have that type of support means everything in the world knowing that the country is backing us,” said forward Katrina Guillou.
“It’s that kind of extra support that we need to keep on going for the full 90 minutes.”
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