Tough guy to please! Philippines manager fails to crack a smile despite his team making history with their first ever World Cup goal
There’s hiding emotions, and then there’s locking them up and throwing away the key – something that the Philippines women’s football manager offered a masterclass in after his side’s winning goal against hosts New Zealand on Tuesday.
Following Sarina Bolden’s historic header – marking the country’s first ever World Cup goal – in the 24th minute of the match in Wellington, the beaming scorer rushed over to teammates and support staff on the touchline.
If manager Alen Stajcic was happy, he was hiding it very, very well – adopting a stern poker-face as his ecstatic team embraced all around him. As the camera panned over to him, football fans were treated to more of a winning snarl than a winning smile.
Imagine if they’d lost! An historic 24th strike from Sarina Bolden was the first time the Philippines national squad – men or women – had scored in any World Cup but tough-faced manager Alen Stajcic kept any joy firmly under wraps.
The manager, a former Australian player, scrunched up his nose as celebrations continued all around him
In the press conference after the match, he admitted that it was actually a defining moment in his career, saying: ‘How can you top beating a host nation at a World Cup? It’s number one’
Sarina Bolden scored the Philippines’ first ever goal at the Women’s World Cup as they beat co-hosts New Zealand in Wellington 1-0 on Tuesday.
As the final whistle blew, a smile finally emerged from the coach, as he offered a cheery clenched fist to fans in the crowd.
Bolden will go down in history as the first Philippines scorer at a men’s or women’s World Cup, netting a powerful first-half header, and the match-winner.
And in the press conference afterwards, Stajcic, who once managed the Australian team, who are hosting alongside New Zealand, made it clear that the Philippines’ historic first win at the tournament was a huge achievement.
He told reporters that the debutant’s victory ‘has to be one of the biggest wins in the history of sports in the country’.
He continued: ‘How can you top beating a host nation at a World Cup? It’s number one.
‘It was very emotional out on the pitch, seeing just about everyone crying. It’s unbelievable. When you hear stories of other teams needing so long to win World Cup matches… We have done it in our second match in our first World Cup.
Got there in the end! Former Matildas boss Stajcic offered a smile to fans once the historic win in Wellington was sealed, saying it was ‘very emotional out on the pitch’
The World Cup debutants kept their hopes of reaching the Round of 16 alive with the shock win
New Zealand have it all to do to qualify after losing in Wellington on Tuesday
‘You can’t really appreciate how far back in the pack we have come compared to these teams. The unity, work rate and heart from the team was special.’
After the euphoria of an opening night win over Norway, New Zealand crashed back down to earth with the 1-0 loss.
A resurgent New Zealand thought they had an equalizer when Jacqui Hand netted a looping header, only for Hannah Wilkinson to be deemed fractionally offside in the build-up.
The goal was ruled out following a VAR review more than a minute after wild celebrations, popping the Kiwis’ balloon.