New coach confident of Malditas’ chances in Mumbai Asian Cup
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Alen Stajcic, the head coach of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team (PWNFT) Malditas expressed optimism about his team amidst the challenges they are facing ahead of their campaign in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 in Mumbai, India.
The Malditas’ first match is against Thailand tomorrow, Friday, January 21 at 8 PM in Dy Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai under Group B.
Stajcic is very optimistic that they will emerge successful considering the challenges they’ve hurdled just to qualify for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022.
The Malditas eye to advance from the group stage to qualify for one of the five spots at stake for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
“We are here to try to create history for Philippine football,” said Stajcic in a press release from the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) website on Wednesday.
Stajcic of Australia took the head coaching job for the Malditas in October last year replacing Marlon Maro who was assigned by PFF as its new coaching education department chief.
“There are a lot of challenges. From players coming all over the globe, some were in clubs, some were not. Some of them have not played for a long time due to lockdowns brought by COVID. Game experience and matches have been very low so we started with that base. All of these players have worked extremely hard to get to this point,” added Stajcic.
The Malditas had a training camp in Irvine, California after they topped Group F in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Uzbekistan last September.
The majority of the team’s 23-player roster are veterans of the 2018 Asian Cup. Their main focus is the match tomorrow against Thailand which has not defeated the Malditas in 12 meetings.
“We’re putting all our energy (in that match). But we’re looking at ourselves to be honest and in preparing the best we can and being ready for whatever happens. I know it’s a cliché but if you look too far ahead you can sometimes lose a bit of focus so we’re focused on our own preparation,” said Stajcic.
After Thailand, the Malditas will face powerhouse Australia on Monday, January 22 at the Mumbai Football Arena. Next after that are the Indonesians on January 27 at the Shree Shiv Chatrapati Sports Complex. /rcg
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