Stajcic sees bright future for PH football after AFF crown

Published July 18, 2022, 4:57 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic left Rizal Memorial Stadium with a huge smile on his face Sunday night, July 17, following the Philippines’ historic win in the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship.

Filipinas team captain Tahnai Annis (center) lead her members in raising the 2022 AFF Women’s Championship trophy. (MB Photo / Ali Vicoy)

There are plenty of reasons for the Australian mentor to beam with much delight on an evening filled with action, drama, and history.

After all, the players and coaching staff share the moment of pride with the entire nation.

The AFF stint has to be the nationals’ best performance so far in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament

The past six months were the busiest for the Filipinas but Stajcic can finally heave a sigh of relief knowing that their hard work has finally come to fruition.

“It’s amazing,” said Stajcic after the Filipinas’ 3-0 rout of Thailand in their finals showdown in front of 8,257-strong crowd. “And you see the fans coming out and lift Philippine football and bring it to life is truly spectacular from my perspective.

It would be recalled that the nationals finished as semifinalists in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asia Cup, which was held from January to February 2021, where they clinched yet another historic feat by securing the country’s first-ever World Cup berth.

Then there’s the 31st Southeast Asian Games where the Filipinas, now ranked 53rd in the FIFA World Rankings, settled for bronze medal last May.

A couple of friendlies on European soil also saw some promising acts from the Filipinas booters, defeating No. 63 Bosnia and Herzegovina twice despite yielding first against No. 27 Ireland.\

With the AFF crown at hand, this could be still considered just the tip of the iceberg for the Filipinas as they brace for the 2023 FIFA World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

But Stajcic, a former player himself in the NSW Premier League in Australia, is slowly seeing the results they wanted for their short-term goals. As ambitious as it sounds, he wants to witness football prosper more not only in the Philippines but also in the world.

Football being labeled as the “number one sport” is also something that lingers on Stajcic’s mind as many Filipino fans, led by the well-known Ultras Filipinas, continue to give support and exposure to the sport.

“To see the crowd come alive and Philippine football come alive is just truly a transforming moment, hopefully, for the sport and hopefully more people fall in love with the sport, wanna play the sport, and wanna come and watch the sport,” added the 48-year-old Aussie tactician.