Football: Coaches eye alignment of nat'l women's team with youth squads

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2023 08:12 PM | Updated as of Jan 25 2023 08:13 PM

Philippine team head coach Alen Stajcic moments before their match against Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on July 17, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Philippine team head coach Alen Stajcic moments before their match against Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on July 17, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA, Philippines -- Alen Stajcic and Nahuel Arrarte will take charge of the Philippines' age group teams in an effort to align their development with that of the national women's squad.

Stajcic will call the shots for the Under-17 women's team, while Arrarte, his assistant in the senior squad, will handle the Under-20 women's group.

Their appointments were announced by Philippine Football Federation (PFF) secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastanes in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday, and confirmed by team manager Jeff Cheng in a press conference, Wednesday. 

Stajcic and Arrarte hit the ground running, attending tryouts for the Under-20 and Under-17 squads in California over the weekend. 

"It's very exciting," said Arrarte. "I think it's an opportunity to align the senior national team along with the young players coming through, and it's a similar process as we did with the senior team in regards to looking for the best Filipinas players possible." 

They will be back at work this week, this time attending local tryouts. 

The PFF will hold a tryout on January 26 at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, to be followed by a tryout at the Tionko Football Field in Davao City on January 27.

Stajcic and Arrarte will then head to the Dynamic Herb Sports Complex in Talisay, Cebu on January 28 for another tryout. 

For the 49-year-old Stajcic, taking the reins for an age group team is an opportunity he cannot pass up, even as he remains as busy as ever with the senior squad.

The Filipinas are in for a busy year: they will play in the Pinatar Cup in February and in the Olympic qualifiers in April, before heading to Cambodia for the Southeast Asian Games in May. 

And in July, they will fly to New Zealand for their maiden participation in the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Stajcic believes that his work with the Under-17 squad -- along with Arrarte's for the Under-20 -- will be crucial for the future of the senior national team.

"I love the opportunity of working with new players," he said. "In this case, it's not really a job I need to do or have to do for myself … It's a job where I'm hopefully gonna provide something for the players, but more importantly the staff around for them to be able to carry the torch." 

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