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Tiebreaker Times


Alen Stajcic’s Unyielding Determination: Pushing Filipinas to shock the world

DUNEDIN — Alen Stajcic is ready to take on the world with one of the international game’s most noteworthy underdogs.

After being forced out of his post as head coach of the Australian Matildas, the 49-year-old mentor rebuilt his reputation with the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League and has elevated it by leading the Philippine Women’s National Football Team to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

His focus right now is fixed on piloting the Filipinas to a dream start to their campaign against Switzerland’s La Nati on Friday afternoon here in Dunedin at the Forsyth Barr Stadium. It has been a long time coming, but Stajcic is finally back on the world stage for the first time since 2015.

“We’ve been preparing since the day that we qualified. We were lucky that those qualifiers were a long time ago. We were probably one of the first teams to qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

“It’s been almost from ground zero to full throttle over the last 18 months, and a team that maybe played two to three games a year and played sporadically last year (when) we played 30 internationals last year and this year we played nine and on top of that many friendlies against club teams,” he continued.

“We’ve really hit full throttle in terms of experiencing different teams around the globe, different styles of football, different cultures… I know that we’ve given the players every opportunity to develop, grow, and improve as individuals and as a group. I know that the coaching staff have given everything they can possibly give to the playing group to hopefully accelerate their learning and their growth.”

Winning is everything at this level of international football. For the Filipinas to book a ticket to the World Cup is already an amazing achievement, but the erstwhile Sydney FC mentor refuses to be content with that feat.

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Under his and his staff’s program, the Filipinas have engaged in close to 40 international matches. These include friendlies as well as tournaments such as the Southeast Asian Games, the AFF Women’s Championship, and Pinatar Cup.

Stajcic’s dream for the team is for it to be a credible force in the international game. What better way than to gauge the Filipinas’ growth by seeing how they fare in the World Cup.2022-AFF-Womens-Championship-Philippines-vs-Thailand-Finals-Celeb-PHI-Coach-Alen-Stajcic-PH Alen Stajcic's Unyielding Determination: Pushing Filipinas to shock the world News PVL Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“We’re starting a long way back as a team compared to other countries. We played Sweden the other day, and look at their history in women’s football over the last 40-50 years — the full-time professional competitions and the national team, and we’ve only had that for 18 months,” he said.

“So we have to fast track all of that development into a year and a half, and it’s tough, but I know we’re going into the starting line of every game thinking that we can win and believing we can win. Now that we’ve done everything we can to prepare, we can be confident in that way and have that belief.”

The Filipinas have everything to play for against Switzerland tomorrow afternoon. New Zealand’s 1-0 win over Norway has thrown all expectations for Group A into the trash bin.

The odds may be against his side, but Stajcic is not going to the game just wanting to secure a moral victory. He and his players will fight tooth and nail to get a result that they can build on for the next matches.

A 5-1 defeat to Sweden in a closed-door friendly a few days ago may have been an anticlimactic way to finish their preparations, but the Filipinas will draw on that experience to stun the Swiss. Stajcic will make sure of that.

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“Regardless of how we go in this tournament, I know that the growth and the development within the group would be exponential. You just can’t beat playing the best players on the planet. I thought in the last Olympics, Sweden was probably the best football-playing team in the tournament,” he said.

“They destroyed America, and it was just an amazing performance. For us to be able to compete against them for 90 minutes and show every player in our team what those players look like, what they feel like on the pitch,” he continued.

“You’re not watching it on TV. You’re feeling it for yourself. You can’t put any price on the learning you get at that moment. Wonderful opposition to play against, a beautiful team to watch, but for us, most importantly, it was a wonderful learning experience, and one that we’ll take into this game. I’m sure you’ll see a team that’s played against someone like that and is ready to go against a similar opponent.”

Written By

Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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