Philippines vow to ‘crash the party’ against N Zealand


Philippines coach Alen Stajcic is backing his Women’s World Cup debutants to “crash the party” when they play hosts New Zealand on Tuesday.

New Zealand are on a high after beating Norway 1-0 in the tournament opener to end a 15-match winless streak at the Women’s World Cup dating back to 1991.

The Philippines lost 2-0 to Switzerland in their first match at the finals in New Zealand and Australia, but proved to be no pushovers.

A capacity crowd is expected in Wellington, with most cheering for the home team, but Australian Stajcic said on Monday: “You have to block all that out and embrace it.

“It’s a brilliant occasion so to play in front of such a big crowd and a TV audience is a really special moment.

“You’ve got to go out there and give it your best shot, so as motivating as it will be for New Zealand, it’s 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 all-time best ranking of 46th.

Their rise began with the Women’s Asian Cup last year, when they reached the semi-finals, lost to South Korea but secured a historic World Cup berth.

New Zealand beat the Philippines 2-1 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, including ours.

“Football in all our countries is not number one – in the Philippines, New Zealand or Australia – so we have to do everything we can to strengthen 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 to know that even in these games, a couple of hours flight from Manila, to have that type of support means everything in the world, to know that the country is behind us,” forward Katrina Guillou said.

“That’s the kind of extra support that we need to keep going for the full 90 minutes.”

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