Coach Marlon Maro has stepped down from his duties as head of the Philippine Malditas national women’s team.
Replacing him is former Australian national coach Alen Stajcic, who will now take over in preparing the Malditas as they seek to earn a historic spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The coaching change comes less than three months before the Malditas plunge into action in the Asian Football Confederation Women’s Asian Cup India 2022.
The tournament, which begins on January 20 in India, will serve as the final stage of the Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Last month, Maro guided the Malditas to a second straight AFC Asian Cup berth.
Wins posted over Nepal and Hong Kong in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan gave them a seat to the tournament in India.
The 47-year-old Stajcic joins the Malditas following a five-year stint from 2014 to 2019 with the Australian women’s national squad, also known as the Matildas
While Stajcic was still with the Matildas, the Aussie team qualified to the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Later, Stajcic coached the Matildas in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, where the Australian side reached the quarterfinals.
Joining Stajcic in this new job is deputy coach Nahuel Arrarte, the assistant coach of the Matildas from 2017 until 2019, and is now with A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers.
Philippine Football Federation officials, led by president Mariano Araneta, Jr. expressed confidence that Stajcic’s presence will improve the squad.
“We are thrilled that Alen Stajcic has accepted the position to be the head coach of the Philippine Women’s National Team. His appointment shows the commitment and determination of the PFF to give our women’s national team the best possible chance to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Araneta.
Araneta thanked Maro for his contributions to the team and has appointed him as head of the PFF coaching education program.
“We see how Coach Maro is a vital stakeholder on the growth of the beautiful game in the country and his appointment as PFF Coaching Education head is testament to his already significant contributions and what he still can contribute to the country’s football development,” said Araneta.
PFF secretary general Ed Gastanes said they are upbeat about Stajcic’s new role with the Malditas.
“Coach Alen Stajcic has the capabilities to elevate the Philippine Women’s team on the Asian stage and beyond. We look forward to what he can bring to the team which has qualified to the final competition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022,” said Gastanes.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Azkals National Men’s Under-23 National Team tried to hold off South Korea, but still took a 0-3 loss setback in their opening game in the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, Monday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore. Peter Atencio