With several competitions lined up for the Philippine Women’s National Team this year, the extension of PWNT head coach Alen Stajcic’s contract with the team came at a perfect time.
The 48-year-old Australian signed a contract extension with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) last week which will see him lead the team until its maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance next year.
Stajcic, who steered the PWNT to a semi-final berth in the recently concluded AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, cited that it was “a decision of the heart” to extend his stint with the Philippines.
“I’m very excited actually to start this whole process and the journey to the World Cup,” said Stajcic. “Making it to the World Cup was unique, it was phenomenal, it was extraordinary, and it was real hard work, but now the real hard work starts.”
PWNT Team Manager Jefferson Cheng admired the determination and commitment of Stajcic as well as his assistants Nahuel Arrarte and Luca Tonetti to the country.
“You could see that his heart is with the Philippine national team and I respect him greatly for that and I think that was what made him decide to extend the contract so to speak,” said Cheng. “We’re very fortunate to have coach Alen and his team with us because I could see they are the right coaches and the right team to bring us through to the World Cup.”
The PWNT is set to compete in at least three competitions in the run up to the World Cup beginning with the 31st Southeast Asian Games in May, followed by the AFF Women’s Championship in July, and the 19th Asian Games in September.
Ahead of the three competitions, Stajcic expects that the players will have a healthy competition for the spots in the team.
“For anyone who wants to challenge that spot, and I hope we have lots of challenges for those spots,” added Stajcic. “No one owns that shirt. They’re just renting it so anyone who comes along and performs better and shows more skill, more passion, more dedication will earn the right to have that shirt but certainly, the 23 who wore the jerseys in India, it’s theirs to lose but for everyone else, it’s gonna be a tough challenge now to get that shirt, but it’s open to everyone.”