Much was expected of Jonelle Filigno ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™. The Canada forward constitutes one half of an intimidating strikeforce along with star player Christine Sinclair, but so far the duo have struggled to live up to expectations. Defeats in each of their first two group games have left the Canucks out of the running for a place in the quarter-finals with one first-round match remaining.
"We know as a team that we didn’t perform to our maximum potential,” a downbeat Filigno told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “Every team has that one game where you're completely off, and unfortunately for us it was our most important match. We feel like we let ourselves down. That game doesn’t define us and it’s definitely well short of what we’re capable of."
The 20-year old is now hoping to finish the tournament on a high with an improved performance against Nigeria: "It’s just for pride now and to prove to ourselves, our country, our supporters and to the world that we’re capable of much more than we’ve shown here. I want to give everything."
Role model Sinclair
For Filigno, her more illustrious strike partner Sinclair is far more than just a team-mate: "She’s been a role model for me since I was playing in the lowest division all through to the national team. I’m still playing with her and she’ll always be my role model. She leads by example. She’s not someone who speaks a lot, but the words she does say are so powerful and meaningful. Most importantly she leads by example on the pitch and that motivates you to want to be the best you can be."
While she is hugely disappointed by Canada’s early exit from Germany 2011, the pacy attacker has found several positives to take from the tournament: "Everything has been awesome. The Dresden weather could have been a little bit nicer [laughs], especially after the loss because it was making us feel a little down. We thought it would be hot here. The hospitality has been great, so has the food. We’ve really enjoyed our time here."
When Filigno remembers walking out to over 73,000 fans for the Opening Match against Germany, hairs still stand on the back of her neck: “Just walking out and playing the Opening Match against Germany will always be an amazing memory for me. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Walking out into that stadium is definitely a moment I will never forget."
Thankfully the chances of a similar experience are high, with the 2015 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup due to be held in Canada, by which time Filigno will be just 24. "I know I’m still very young,” she explained. “I still have so much to develop and to improve, and I think that it’s is going to be a great time for me to be in front of our home crowd. We have a lot of people behind us. Even with this loss it’s astonishing to see how many supporters we still have. It definitely brings a smile to our faces."
Of course before the likable striker can start looking forward to Canada 2015, Filigno has the small matter of her side's final group fixture against Nigeria to prepare for: “It’s hard to think about another World Cup while we’re still here. We had a lot of support coming into this tournament and having it at home next time will be even better for us."