Filipinas count on own fans

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Filipinas count on own fans
Philippines’ goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel (right) catches the ball as striker Sarina Bolden helps out during a Group A match against Switzerland in Dunedin, New Zealand, Friday.

AUCKLAND – For sure, New Zealand’s “12th woman” will come in full force and amplify the Football Ferns’ home-field advantage against the Philippines in their approaching FIFA Women’s World Cup duel.

But the Filipinas aren’t shrinking at the thought of a mammoth section of the 47,260-seater Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington cheering against them.

Let them come.

“There’ll probably be a lot of Filipinos, as well,” Philippine coach Alen Stajcic said after training at Auckland’s Olympic Park yesterday, confident the heavily-outnumbered but loud Pinoy supporters will still get the job done in helping the team tackle the partisan environment.

According to Stajcic, the Filipinas are actually embracing the prospect of playing before a big audience.

“Ultimately, it’s a wonderful occasion to see our country’s playing in such a big occasion in front of a sellout crowd and in women’s football being broadcast to millions around the world,” he said.

The Pinay booters have had their taste of the “visitor-in-hostile-territory” situation during the Southeast Asian Games last year in Vietnam, where nearly 16,000 came out to rally the home side. However, Vietnam came back from a one-goal deficit to steal that group stage game, 2-1.

“Just getting that experience of so many fans rooting against you is good because we’re going to go against the host nation and it’s going to be 10 times louder and so much energy that’s going to be against us,” said striker Sarina Bolden ahead of tomorrow’s tiff with the Kiwis.

“But I think we’re going to be fueled by that and we’re going to have our Filipinos, our supporters out there, too, and they’ll be just as loud. So all the sort that we prepared have brought us into this moment and I have no doubt we’ll do well.”

Keeper Olivia McDaniel feels the same way.

“It will really benefit us knowing the noise in the stadium. We’ve been in that environment before so we’ll be able to handle it and go forward and make sure we just listen to each other, have each other’s back, thrust each other, ”she said.

“We have to just enjoy the moment that we’re playing in front of so many people and in front of a home crowd of an opposing team, which is amazing. But we need to make sure we push past that and know what we’re working for.”

The Filipinas look to get the result against New Zealand after conceding a 0-2 loss to Switzerland in their WC debut last Friday in Dunedin. They fly to Wellington today to continue the final preparations against the Kiwis.

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