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Football

To catch up with Matildas, PWNFT needs better grassroots programs, says Stajcic


Within the arena of international sports, moral victories are seen with a certain level of disdain because of the high-stakes competition involved.

However, there are times when such instances truly hold – such as how the Philippine Women’s National Football Team held its own against the Sam Kerr-powered Australia in a 0-4 loss, Monday evening, at the Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai.

“It’s an outstanding performance,” said Philippines coach Alen Stajcic. “I couldn’t be any prouder of the way that they fought and battled and the effort was outstanding against a really, truly world-class team.

“For our players to step up to that level and be able to hold them out for 50 minutes and only really concede off a corner from Sam Kerr — who is probably the best header of the ball in the last 10 to 15 years in women’s football, it just shows the resilience that the team showed.”

“The fight, the effort, makes us really proud that we could match that team for so long and keep them at bay.”

Before the match, Stajcic experienced another headache when one of the players suffered from COVID-related circumstances while another was out injured.

Ultimately, the 48-year-old tactician admits there are some things that are simply uncontrollable considering that the team had a couple of players and a staff member test positive amidst their right protocols.

At the back of all of those challenges, he was proud to see what he witnessed on the pitch.

2022-AFC-Womens-Asian-Cup-Philippine-vs-Australia To catch up with Matildas, PWNFT needs better grassroots programs, says Stajcic Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

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“The fact that we played against Australia today again without one of our key players, who is unavailable when rotating the squad,” said Stajcic. “We actually played with our number three goalkeeper (Kiara Fontanilla) today as well and that’s her debut at this level so so many positives to take out of the performance today on top of the actual effort they showed on the field.”

After that performance, the question now is when can the Philippines consistently take on the likes of Australia on the world stage. There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to developing a proper program. This loss, no matter how much of it was a moral victory, just shows that there is really still a long way to go.

2022-AFC-Womens-Asian-Cup-Philippine-vs-Australia-Dominique-Randle To catch up with Matildas, PWNFT needs better grassroots programs, says Stajcic Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

Photo from The-AFC.com

“We could be here for two months talking about that question,” said Stajcic. “This Matildas team was put together over 10 or 12 years, not 10 or 12 minutes or, you know, an answer that takes 10 or 12 seconds. There’s probably over a thousand caps of experience in that team. They’re all playing at the highest levels in Europe or in America. It didn’t just happen overnight.

“There were institutes. There were player development systems, player identification systems. There are lots of things in place to find these players and train these players and prepare these players and that takes 10 years. It doesn’t take 10 minutes and any country that wants to get to that level if they think a magic wand can come over their team and fix any issue in 10 minutes, they’re on another planet,” he continued.

“It really takes a lot of hard work at grassroots and development systems to be able to have farmed and trained and develop some of the best athletes within your own country and Australia did a good job at that 10 years ago and they’re reaping the rewards of this fantastic team they’ve got.”

For his part, Matildas mentor Tony Gustavsson was impressed with what he saw from the Philippines. After an 18-0 win over Indonesia, the Maltidas could have just easily slacked off but they were noticeably frustrated just before the time Kerr broke the deadlock.

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“We knew this was gonna be a very different game from the opening game,” commented Gustavsson. “I have to give a lot of credit to the Philippines. I think they made it very difficult for us. They’ve done a really good preparation work going into this game.

“They’ve probably had a very long prep time compared to some other teams in this tournament. They were organized almost like a club team, very synchronized, which I’m impressed with but also the fighting spirit. They didn’t shy away from a tackle and they made it a tough game for us so I’m really impressed.”

As of now, though, the Philippines, ranked 63 in the world, can be proud of how its players stood toe-to-toe against a country ranked 11th in the FIFA World Rankings.

While there is still a long way to go before the nation can be a perennial contender in Asia, this was a welcome step forward.

2022-AFC-Womens-Asian-Cup-Philippines-vs-Australia-Alen-Stajcic To catch up with Matildas, PWNFT needs better grassroots programs, says Stajcic Football News Philippine Malditas  - philippine sports news

Photo from The-AFC.com

“For us, we’ve spent three months in camp and for us to bridge that gap so quickly is really a phenomenal feat from this group of players. As I said, I think the country should be immensely proud of what they produced today.”

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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