Football: Stajcic 'really happy' with new additions to PH squad

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2022 06:15 AM


A post shared by Katrina Guillou (@guillouk)

Four players will be making their debuts for the Philippines in the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022, including highly-regarded Filipino-French defender Katrina Guillou.

Head coach Alen Stajcic, who took over the post just last October, is quite happy with the players that the Philippines recruited for the continental showpiece, which also serves as a qualifier for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023.

"They've shown that they can play at this level and compete at this level, and we've worked hard," said Stajcic of their newcomers. "We've had a big selection criteria in the USA, involving 30 or 40 different players. We had a look at a lot of different people for those spots, there was huge competition for those places."

"The players we brought in, we're very happy with," he added. "A couple of new players have actually got a lot of experience under their belt playing in high levels around the world, even some in the top levels in Europe as well."

"I'm really happy with the new players we brought in, and the way they've jelled with the team has been really good as well."

Aside from Guillou, also set to make their debuts for the Philippines are Kiara Fontanilla (Eastern Oregon University), Dominique Randle (University of Southern California) and Isabella Flanigan (Montverde Academy).

They also brought in Keanne Alamo and Carleigh Frilles, who saw action in the youth level for the country.

Among the newcomers, it was Guillou who caught the attention of many observers and pundits, as the Filipino-French defender currently plays for Piteå IF in the Damallsvenskan, the women's top-flight in Sweden.

Stajcic spoke highly of the 28-year-old, saying: "She's done really well, that's why she's been selected into the team, and she brings a little bit of that experience to the team."

However, he also sought to temper expectations for Guillou, with the coach pointing out that the defender is in for a "new challenge."

"She hasn't played in an Asian Cup before," said Stajcic. "So like everyone, when you're trying things out for the first time, you never know what you're gonna get."

"But she's a fantastic person and a fantastic footballer, and I'm sure she's gonna be an incredible part of this group," he added.

The Philippines opens its campaign against Thailand on Friday at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Kick-off is at 5:30 p.m. local time (8 p.m. in Manila).

At stake in the AFC Women's Asian Cup are five spots to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 in New Zealand and Australia.