The Philippines Women’s National Team has made history with their very first FIFA Women’s World Cup win against New Zealand
Coach Alen Stajcic called it one of the biggest victories in the sporting history of the Philippines after his side claimed a historic first World Cup win on Tuesday.
The footballing minnows stunned co-hosts New Zealand 1-0 thanks to a first-half Sarina Bolden header in front of 32,357 in Wellington.
New Zealand, ranked 20 places higher than their opponents, created a string of second-half chances and had a goal disallowed but the Philippines held on for a famous win.
It was the Philippines’ first victory at either a men’s or women’s World Cup and blows Group A wide open.
“In the history of Philippines team sport I don’t know if there has been a bigger win,” said their Australian coach, who had already masterminded a debut World Cup finals appearance.
“It would have to be one of the best achievements in the history of the country.”
Olivia McDaniel, the United States-born goalkeeper who earned the player of the match award, said: “It means everything to us.
“We knew that New Zealand were going to come in hard off the momentum from their win against Norway, but we couldn’t have asked for better.
“We can’t stop now, we have much more work to do,” McDaniel added, with a spot in the last 16 now in view.
The Philippines, ranked 46th in the world, are guaranteed to go through if they can beat former champions Norway on Sunday.
Stajcic called the landmark win “emotional for all of us. It’s unbelievable”.
“Of course we rode our luck. New Zealand had three or four unbelievable chances and the VAR call,” he said, referring to a disallowed goal in the second half.
“The unity and work rate and heart from the team was special. We had some luck, but we also earned our luck.”
On the eve of the game, Stajcic had said the Philippines wanted to “crash the party” against a New Zealand side on a high after their opening 1-0 win over Norway.
His unfancied team, beaten 2-0 by Switzerland on their World Cup debut, were as good as their word and scored the only goal after 24 minutes to stun the home crowd.
After New Zealand conceded a free-kick, Bolden out-jumped the home defence to head the ball at home goalkeeper Victoria Esson, who could only watch in horror as her attempted parry looped over her into the net.
New Zealand showed little of the self-confidence which carried them past Norway for their first World Cup win at the 16th try.
“It’s so heartbreaking for everyone in this team,” said New Zealand’s Czech coach Jitka Klimkova, as the Football Ferns came crashing back down to earth.
“We played to win and it didn’t go our way. We were fighting until the end, but it wasn’t enough.”
It could even have been 2-0 at the break had Philippines forward Katrina Guillou got her shot on target just before the half-time whistle.
Klimkova threw on Celtic midfielder Olivia Chance and veteran Annalie Longo as the Football Ferns created a number of second-half chances.
Hannah Wilkinson, who hit the winner over Norway, went agonisingly close to equalising but her header flew just over the bar.
Her forward partner Jacqui Hand clattered her shot against the post, then had a headed goal disallowed with 20 minutes left after replays showed the ball went out of play in the build-up.
© Agence France-Presse