Goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel and midfielder Tahnai Annis were both asked what Filipino word came to mind in describing the Filipinas’ FIFA Women’s World Cup monumental 1-0 upset of the Ferns in front of a packed hometown crowd at the Wellington Stadium on Tuesday (July 25) night.
“Puso (heart)” both McDaniel and Annis replied in separate interviews moments after their milestone triumph that kept them alive in Group A to bounce back from a 0-1 loss to Switzerland in their first match last week in Dunedin.
“It was a huge privilege for me to finally get to play in the World Cup. A moment to remember and to be cherished. We fought hard with heart,” said Annis, who came off the bench in the second half after sitting out the first game.
McDaniel, who took Player of the Match honors, echoed her teammate’s sentiments of the collective big fighting heart they displayed not only against their rivals but also in the face of a jammed arena of over 30,000 animated local fans who rooted for the Ferns to win.
It was left to Australian coach Alen Stajcic to elaborate and explain what both players said.
“Of heart and spirit, this team has got it in spades. In all those factors, they are 10 of 10,” said Stajcic, who tried to hold back his own emotions during the post-match conference, while relishing their huge achievement.
“They (the Filipinas) are one of the best teams in the world for unity, collective effort and playing above themselves as a unit. When you see that and you know what you have, that is what makes it really special,” the two-time World Cup veteran mentor stressed.
He amplified the significance of the win in just the squad’s second game of the World Cup, comparing the feat to what other countries had to go through in attaining one.
“For New Zealand I think it was their 15th or 16th match or five or six World Cups,” he recalled of the hosts’ record of futility until they scored a breakthrough 1-0 triumph over Norway at Eden Park in Auckland last week.
“While watching Colombia and (South) Korea before our game, the commentator said they have one win each. Korea has been at least in five or six world cups and Colombia three or four,” he pointed out.
“To think that we have done it in our second match in our first World Cup. You can’t really appreciate how far we’ve come back in the pack compared to where those countries where in terms of their football history, their culture and investment,” the Australian tactician explained.
Likening the New Zealand game to a boxing match, Stajcic said “that there was no doubt if this was a boxing match, they (the Ferns) were the better team but we earned that win with other qualities,” he said.
Or in a word – “PUSO.”