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Stajcic unfazed by PWNFT groupmates in AFC Asian Cup

Philippine Women’s National Football Team head coach Alen Stajic had a gut feeling that he would meet his former team Australia in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

And it came true on Thursday afternoon after the Philippines and Australia were pooled together along with Thailand and Indonesia in Group B.

“I knew somehow Australia would fall in my group,” quipped the 47-year-old Australian, who steered the Matildas to two World Cups.

But for him, he is just glad that they finally know their fate.

“Like any draw in the world, it provides some peculiarities,” he continued. “It’s an interesting tournament, the first time it goes to 12 teams. It’s different challenges, with different teams, and an extra match as well.

“The good thing part for us is we know who we play and targetting that first match and making sure we are ready to go when we get to India.”

The Philippines though has not had a good slate against their three poolmates.

The last time the women’s seniors team faced Australia was back in the 2008 AFF Championship that saw the Matildas blank the then-Malditas, 0-7, back on October 11 in Ho Chi Minh City.

July 9, 2018 was the last time the PWNFT faced Indonesia with the two squads ending the match with a 3-3 deadlock during the 2018 AFF Championship in Palembang.

A year later, Thailand defeated the Philippines, 4-2, in Chonburi during that year’s edition of the AFF Championship.

A lot though has changed during those times believes Stajcic.

“We are very confident that we got a good team. This team has progressed over the last four years and the last Asian Cup, they showed that they can compete with all the countries in the world and played in a playoff against South Korea,” he opined.

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But for the team to nab one of the five outright tickets to the 2023 FIFA World Cup or even the two tickets for the inter-confederation playoffs, they have to have good training.

“If we can keep improving and keep working in the next two to three months, I’m confident we can steal one of those spots in the World Cup.”

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