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Philippines vow to ‘crash party’ against New Zealand at World Cup

Philippines coach Alen Stajcic warned his Women’s World Cup debutants want 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 in New Zealand and Australia but proved to be no pushovers.

A capacity crowd of just over 30,000 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 won 2-1 against the Philippines in a friendly last September, but Stajcic said the narrow 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 that kind of extra support that we need to keep on going for the full 90 minutes,” said forward Katrina Guillou.

If New Zealand win they could reach the last 16 with a match to go, depending on the other result in the group.

“I have to say, this team has never been more focused. We are back on earth and ready to fight again,” said their Czech coach Jitka Klimkova.

Midfielder Malia Steinmetz said home advantage could be the difference.

“This is New Zealand. This is our soil, so we’re going to come out fighting no matter what team it is,” she said.

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