The Philippines gatecrashed New Zealand’s party on Tuesday with a stunning 1-0 upset of the FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosts but coach Alen Stajcic said the celebrations will have to be cut short as it has to prepare for its final group game against Norway.
The World Cup debutant lost its opener against Switzerland and faced long odds against a New Zealand side ranked 20 rungs above it, playing in front of a packed house of loyal home fans in Wellington.
But Stajcic had promised to “crash the party” and his side succeeded thanks to a 24th-minute header from striker Sarina Bolden, killing the buzz from New Zealand’s own shock upset of former winners Norway just a few days ago.
New Zealand’s hopes of at least drawing the match following Jacqui Hand’s header in the 68th minute were dashed after the goal was ruled out for offside and its frantic stoppage-time efforts yielded no success.
“It was very emotional out on the pitch,” said Stajcic, who told reporters that players and staff shed tears.
“To think that we’ve done it in our second match in our first World Cup... the unity and work rate and heart from the team was special. We had some luck but we also earned our luck.”
The players walked hand-in-hand to the stands where they bowed in front of cheering and flag-waving fans.
But with the showdown with 1995 winners Norway looming in Auckland on Sunday, Stajcic said the celebrations will be short and sweet.
“There is no celebration, to be honest. They’ll celebrate until midnight,” said Stajcic.
“Tomorrow it’s back to work. Job’s not done. It’s very important that we switch back into competition mode and think about what we have to do in the last game to try to squeeze out of this group.”
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