Australian coach Alen Stajcic will stay on as head coach of the Philippine national women’s football team and be in charge when the Malditas prepare for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam.
The Philippine Football Federation got Stajcic back on board again, more than a month after he steered the Malditas to a historic qualification in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This was after the Malditas won by penalty shootout, 1-all (4-3), over Chinese Taipei in their quarterfinal encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, India.
The 48-year-old Stajcic, who used to coach the Australian Matildas from 2014 to 2019, on Friday signed a new contract with PFF officials, led by team manager Jefferson Cheng.
“The next 18 months will be challenging for all of us at the PWNT as we do our best to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We are all motivated, hopeful and looking forward to giving our best for the nation,” said Cheng in a statement.
Stajcic will be able to bring in his his staff with the Malditas, who will get ready for the 2023 Women’s World Cup jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Cheng said Stajcic accepted an offer for an extension following a meeting in Sydney last March 1.
Assistant coach Nahuel Arrarte and strength and conditioning coach Luca Tonetti will also remain with the team, according to Cheng.The Filipinas, who lost to Korea Republic in the semifinals, finished joint third with Japan in the tournament won by China. They qualified with Vietnam, who took fourth spot via the repechage rounds.
Stajcic feels that his first stint with the PWNT was one of the best experiences of his career, adding he is glad to be back with Team Philippines.
“I’m delighted to continue our journey with the Philippine Women’s National Team through to the World Cup,” said Stajcic, who carries the distinction of coaching the Australian Matildas to a qualification slot in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a first for the Aussies in 12 years.
Stajcic is best remembered with his work with the Matildas when they topped the Asian Qualifying group and were undefeated in the tournament in 2016.
With Stajcic’s guidance, the Matildas earned their highest-ever FIFA Ranking of 5.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Stjajcic’s Matildas were grouped with Canada, Germany and Zimbabwe. They progressed to the quarterfinals, where they were beaten 7–6 on penalties by host Brazil.
“The Asian Cup performances were remarkable and phenomenal, but to share it with a group of staff and players that exemplified humility, gratitude and passion for the (Philippines) shirt is what really made it special. I’m extremely excited to help lead the team in the next chapter as we head for the pinnacle of our sport,” said Stajcic.
Stajcic’s next task is to lead the Filipinas in the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in May. The Filipinas will also see action in the AFF Women’s Championships in Manila in July before vying in the Asian Games in China in September.
PFF president Mariano Araneta and PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes expressed their pleasure in having Stajcic back again.
“The PFF is honored to continue working with a truly world-class coach in Alen Stajcic whose professionalism and attention to detail have been instrumental in raising the level of the PWNT,” said Araneta. “
“Coach Alen Stajcic showed that the Philippines can be a top-caliber team in the women’s game,” said Gastanes.