New Zealand must regain grit after Philippines upset, says coach

July 25, 2023 - 6:43 PM
FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Group A - New Zealand v Philippines - Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand - July 25, 2023 Philippines' Quinley Quezada celebrates with teammates after the match (Reuters/Amanda Perobelli)

 Co-hosts New Zealand must recapture their grit, coach Jitka Klimkova said on Tuesday after the team suffered a crushing blow at the Women’s World Cup with a shock 1-0 loss to newcomers Philippines.

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The Football Ferns began their campaign on a high last week after beating former champions Norway in front of a record crowd in Auckland, overcoming extraordinary odds to secure their inaugural World Cup win.

Only days later, however, they found themselves on the other side of the equation as underdogs the Philippines bucked the odds in Wellington to beat the co-hosts 1-0 in a scrappy performance.

“This sport,” Klimkova said with a heavy sigh. “Five days ago we were celebrating and we were so excited. Today we didn’t get what we wanted and played for.”

Forward Sarina Bolden fired a header in the 24th minute at New Zealand keeper Victoria Esson, who fumbled it into the net to give the Philippines their first-ever World Cup goal.

New Zealand’s hope of equalizing the affair, a header by forward Jacqui Hand in the 68th minute, was called offside.

“The grit I think was something that was more seen in the game against Norway,” Klimkova told reporters.

“The physicality, how we were against Norway, was a little bit different today.”

She has five days to prepare her players for their final Group A match against Switzerland in Dunedin, during which time she plans to refocus their effort on fine-tuning their attack, after a handful of missed opportunities cost them dearly.

“There was a lot of unforced turnovers that I hadn’t seen in the game against Norway… the execution today was not excellent,” she told reporters. “(The) execution was missing.”

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—Reporting by Amy Tennery in Wellington, editing by Pritha Sarkar