PWNFT to compete in 3 big tourneys this year as warmup for Women’s World Cup
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Women’s National Football Team (PWNFT) revealed the series of tournaments it will join this year as part of its preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
After extending the contract of the team’s Australian coach, Alen Stajcic recently, the team’s first tournament is none other than the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Hanoi, Vietnam in May.
After SEA Games, the team will vie in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championships in July in Manila followed by the 19th Asian Games in September in China.
The 48-year-old Stajcic recently renewed his contract as PWNFT’s head coach after steering the team to its historic feat in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India earlier this year.
For the first time in Philippine football history, the PWNFT qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand after reaching the semifinals of the AFC Cup.
“I’m very excited actually to start this whole process and the journey to the World Cup. 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,” said Stajcic in a post from PFF’s official website.
For his part, PWNFT’s team manager Jefferson Cheng credited Stajcic’s determination and commitment to the team and his assistant coaches Luca Tonetti and Nahual Arrarte.
“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.”
Stajcic expects the girls to be competitive and healthy ahead of the three major competitions this year.
“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.”
The PNWFT is yet to announce its official line-up for the 31st SEA Games. /rcg
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