Benlarbi issues rallying cry to Philippines stars
Amman: Philippines coach Rabah Benlarbi has urged his players to seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has been thrown their way when they face Korea Republic for a place in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Both sides finished third in their respective groups to set up the crucial play-off for fifth place at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018, the winner of which is guaranteed a place at France 2019 along with China PR, Thailand, Australia and Japan who have all made the semi-finals in Jordan.
Despite his side being far from favourites to win Monday’s eagerly anticipated showdown, Benlarbi believes the Philippines are more than ready to give their all given what is at stake.
“We still have a chance to qualify for the World Cup, so we must play without any pressure,” he said.
“The Philippines have absolutely nothing to lose as nobody really expected us to be in the position that we find ourselves in.
“We must give our all, as we have 90 minutes to reach the World Cup, it is potentially a once-in-a-lifetime moment for my players.
“If they all do their very best, they can achieve their goals.”
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Benlarbi was also quick, however, to acknowledge the size of the task his side faces against a Korea Republic team he feels were unlucky not to qualify for the tournament’s semi-finals.
“I am a little surprised to be playing Korea Republic as they were one of the best teams in Group B and deserved, in my opinion, to go to the semi-finals and of course the World Cup,” declared the Frenchman.
“In football, though, you always have a chance. We know the strengths that the Koreans have, that they are a very compact team and that they are the only team to have not conceded at this tournament.
“They do not have many weakness, but they have a few and we will try to focus on those. It will be difficult, but we have one or two possibilities and we will use those to score against them.”
Meanwhile, opposite number Yoon Duk-yeo is urging his Korea Republic stars to give one final push as they attempt to finish the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on a high by qualifying the World Cup.
“Although my players did their utmost during the group stage, we could not go to the semi-finals as was our plan before we came to Jordan as was our plan.” he said.
“But this match against the Philippines is, of course, a very important one for us, as we can qualify for the World Cup by winning it.
“Our players have given some excellent performances during the group stage, and I will ask them to, once again, give their all as we look to qualify for the World Cup.”
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