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Philippines ready for ‘monumental’ last-16 bid at Women’s World Cup

Philippines head coach Alen Stajcic said the Women’s World Cup debutants faced a “monumental” task to beat Norway and squeeze into the tournament’s knock-out stages.

Ranked 46th in the world, the Philippines blew Group A wide open with a shock 1-0 win over co-hosts New Zealand on Tuesday.

Sarina Bolden scored the winning header in Wellington to claim her country’s first goal at a Women’s World Cup — which also sealed the Philippines’ maiden victory at either a men’s or women’s finals.

The side can reach the last 16 by beating Norway on Sunday, the same day New Zealand face Switzerland.

Stajcic said his team, who bounced back after losing their opening game to the Swiss, had to quickly shift focus to their final pool game.

“The job is not done,” he said. “It’s very important we switch back into competition mode and think what we have to do in the last game to try and squeeze out of this group.”

Stajcic said the Philippines face a tough assignment against 1995 world champions Norway, who have 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg in their squad.

“That’s such a monumental task, especially when it’s our third game in just over a week, so we have to recover physically and from the emotion,” he said.

The Philippines have shot up the rankings since the Australian took charge in late 2021, qualifying for the World Cup for the first time by reaching the semi-finals of the Women’s Asian Cup early last year.

Stajcic said this wealth of tournament experience would be an asset as they prepared to play the Norwegians, who have yet to win at this World Cup, losing to New Zealand then drawing with the Swiss.

“The players know the drill. There has been quite a lot of tournament experience in the last 18 months,” he said.

“I think we have seen a lot of maturity and growth in the way they carry themselves off the field, let alone on it.”

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