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Stajcic says all credit in Women’s Asian Cup should go to Annis, PWNFT

Whatever happens between now and the end of the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Alen Stajcic will forever be recognized in the history of Philippine football as the first coach to bring the Philippine Women’s National Football Team into the quarterfinals of the continent’s biggest tournament.

But for Stajcic, he deflects all the credit to the young Filipinas he is coaching.

“The team just keeps raising the bar; every time we do something new and create a bit of history,” commented the 48-year-old tactician after the Philippines’ impressive 6-0 victory over Indonesia last Friday. “It is a new thing for the team, for the country. The first bit of history was obviously beating Thailand for the first time, and now we won two matches in the Asian Cup for the first time in history.

“I believe it’s a record score for us in an Asian Cup — so that’s another bit of history. And I believe it is also our first time ever in the knockout rounds ever in the Asian Cup. So every time you put in performances like that and for me two-and-a-half games of really good football, you just keep raising the ceiling and the expectations of what we know we can achieve.”

It was a dominant performance from the Filipinas all throughout the contest as Katrina Guillou’s early goal set the tone for the rest of the evening. At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel had almost nothing to do as the Indonesians were barely able to trouble her.

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The highlights of the match, though, were definitely the long-range strikes by skipper Tahnai Annis, which were so cleanly struck that the Indonesian goalie couldn’t even react quick enough to lay a finger.

2022-AFC-Asian-Cup-Philippines-def-Indonesia-Tahnai-Annis Stajcic says all credit in Women's Asian Cup should go to Annis, PWNFT Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news


“My first half was not my best ,” said Annis. “I think I was a little bit in my head a bit and trying a little bit too much when I knew what I needed to do. And so in the second half, I kind of took some pressure off of myself and just played simple.

“And when the opportunities came, I took them. I just relied on what I know and the experience that I have, and that helped me to be much more successful in the second half individually.”

Amid all the pressure to make even more history, the team knows that this endeavor is already different from the nationals’ past forays in international competitions.

Difficulties brought about by the dreaded COVID-19 virus have forced the players and coaches to stay together for such a prolonged period from training camp up to this day away from their loved ones and other activities to prevent infection. This circumstance then developed a togetherness that will be difficult to match the next time around.

“The time we spent with this campaign is what makes it more different. We have been blessed to have the opportunity to have such quality time together and it’s the most that we ever had over a period of time,” said Annis.

“And it shows, and we got a little more cohesive as a unit, as a team, and as a whole — staff and players together — that I don’t think we’ve ever had before. I think we all just appreciate that, and that’s what got us to this point so far. And I think everyone’s really excited and really hopeful.”

The Philippines’ reward for earning a runners-up finish in Group B is a quarterfinals assignment against Chinese Taipei.

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A win would not only provide the Filipinas entry into the semi-finals phase of the competition but also a golden ticket to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

“I think it is a pressure for both teams. Chinese Taipei hasn’t been to the World Cup for a long time. I know they were a superpower in the ’80s and in the early, early parts of international women’s football, but they haven’t been part of the World Cup for a long time; and the Philippines have never been,” said Stajcic.

“Every player on the field would have nerves and that’s normal. The team that will handle those nerves better would probably start better, but it does not mean you’ll finish better. And I really think it’s going to be a very good game.”

Without a doubt, there is so much at stake for the PWFNT when it heads to the pitch this Sunday evening. An unimaginable milestone for Philippine football is within reach and it is up to Annis and her teammates to make the most out of this well-deserved opportunity.

2022-AFC-Womens-Asian-Cup-Philippines-vs-Australia-Alen-Stajcic Stajcic says all credit in Women's Asian Cup should go to Annis, PWNFT Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

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“Both teams have shown quality throughout the tournament. I thought Chinese Taipei were excellent against Iran last Thursday (5-0). I think it is a spectacular game, and what an unbelievable occasion for both countries to try and join the next FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.”

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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