AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND—Team Philippines coach Alen Stajcic said he can’t ask for anything more from his Filipinas, who bombed out of further Fifa Women’s World Cup play on Sunday after taking a 6-0 hammering at the hands of a relentless Norway side.
“They fought to the end. From that perspective, it has been an amazing World Cup,” Stajcic said after the loss before a predominantly Filipino gallery at Eden Park here. “The players have punched so far above their weight.”
The Filipinas came into their final Group A game fresh from a colossal upset of New Zealand, a rare win for a debuting squad that eventually made the Kiwis become the first host of the event to not make it out of group play. With all that said, one big question is now hanging on the future of Stajcic with the team, with his contract having lapsed right after their final game here.
“It’s a bit early for all those questions,” Stajcic said. “We will reflect on that for now, and in the coming days we will start making plans for the future.”
If Stajcic and his staff decide to sign a new pact, the immediate future is the Hangzhou Asian Games in September where the Philippines will start its medal bid in Group E with fellow World Cup campaigner South Korea, Myanmar and Hong Kong.There’s also the second round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament the following month in Australia, against the host, Chinese-Taipei and Iran where one or two spots are at stake for the final phase on the road to the Paris Games.
Stajcic is also proud of how his squad has made a truly basketball-crazy country root for Filipinas.
“To bring football to life in the Philippines has been a moment you can’t turn back from.”
The interest created by the Filipinas is something Stajcic hopes won’t go to waste.
“I hope we have planted the seeds of the future generations wanting to become footballers,” he said. “It is a good step, but a lot of things have to happen to maintain it.”
Still, Stajcic continued to praise his players who made all of this happen.
“These players have really left their mark and left a legacy for future generations. I can’t ask any more. They gave everything.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) on Monday paid tribute to the memorable run produced by the Filipinas in the Fifa Women’s World Cup, which ended the previous night here.“Over the course of the last 18 months, the Filipinas united the country in support of their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance,” PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. said.
“While they may have missed out on qualification to the knockout stages, they have achieved something greater, and that was to see the entire Filipino community in the Philippines and wherever they are around the world show their overwhelming support to the team.” INQ
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