Stajcic’s Philippines ready to cause another boilover, wary of ‘wounded’ Norway

Still alive, underdogs New Zealand and the Philippines are just one more upset away from upending the natural order and sealing a place in the Women’s World Cup knockout rounds.

On Sunday night, Group A goes down to the wire, with all four teams still a chance to progress or miss out.

The Football Ferns’ fate hinges on a positive result in Dunedin, where they face the in-form Swiss for a place in the last 16.

The flying Filipinas, fresh from a 1-0 upset of New Zealand, play Norway at Auckland’s Eden Park at the same time.

Philippines coach Alen Stajcic, the former Matildas boss, is taking delight in proving the doubters wrong.

“We’re still alive,” he said.

“No one thought we’d be alive. We were everyone’s underdog.

“We go into the last game against a superpower of women’s football historically knowing that we’re a chance of progressing through to the next round.”

Switzerland are in the driver’s seat with four points, and can be assured of progression with a draw.

New Zealand and the Philippines have three points, and will qualify with a win, though a draw may do.

Norway, the highest-ranked side in the New Zealand-based group, have just one point and need to win and hope for a positive result from Dunedin.

The Scandinavians’ results belie their status, having won world and continental championships, as well as gold at the Sydney Olympics.

However, the team has been rocked by reported infighting, with star Barcelona-based forward Caroline Graham Hansen benched and then speaking out about poor treatment, before apologising.

“The fact that they’re wounded, sometimes means they will come out and fight even harder,” Stajcic said.

“I’ve been following women’s football for 30 years and I know how strong the country is and their history and culture.”

He vowed his side would take the same approach against the world No.12 as any other.

“I don’t care if we’re playing Norway, I don’t care if we’re playing America, I don’t care if we’re playing Myanmar or Hong Kong … or we need to win or we need to draw,” he said.

“We go out to win every game.”

On Monday, Group H play their second matches of the tournament, with South Korea facing Morocco in Adelaide, and powerhouses Germany taking on Colombia in Sydney.