By NIKOLE JAVIER
Philippine national women's football team head coach Alen Stajcic is dealing with a unique problem as promising talents battle for roster spots in the lead-up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The national mentor and now appointed head tactician of the U17 team is dealing with players who are coming from club duties in Europe, Australia and neighboring counties from Asia which he deemed as beneficial for the Filipinas as they take on a hectic year.
From more than 30 players in the pool, only 23 are set to make the cut of the official lineup which will be submitted in June for the biggest spectacle in football.
“It’s national team football. It should be a little bit cutthroat but in a good way. And part of it is the coaching of the team and then the dynamics within the team. So hopefully, I’m positive that the rivalry is so healthy and that’s how it should be and that’s one of the keys to our success for sure,” said Stajcic.
Despite the unique problem in his hands, the Australian coach is glad to see that a huge chunk of the Filipinas roster seeking competitive environments elsewhere in their club careers and taking home the learnings that come with it.
Not even too long ago, the majority of the national team members “went back home to nothing” after their international tilts and were limited to experience in terms of being a developing footballer.
“In one respect, it doesn’t matter. The best players will get picked. In another respect, the more you play, the more you train, the more games you play, the better the games you play, the better you train, the better you give yourself more chance of being a better player. So it’s not a definitive yes, but it certainly helps to be in a good training environment. Ultimately, it’ll come down to who’s in the best form,” he added.
The Filipinas are gearing up for their lined-up competitions with their Spain stint in immediate sights.
For Stajcic, though, the Europe action in February is not designed for winning trophies but for building momentum heading to the World Cup which he deemed to be just as important.
In his mind, winning against the higher-ranked countries add up as preparation for the team in their upcoming major tournaments that lay ahead for the rest of a busy year.