MANILA, Philippines – Alen Stajcic, coach of the Philippines women’s soccer team, said her semifinal loss to Thailand at the 31st Southeast Asian Games was “part of her journey” in the ongoing development of the program.
“It’s part of our journey. We only emerge on this level. Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar have been playing at this level for 10 to 12 years. I remember that Vietnam and Thailand lost significantly,” said Stajcic after the 3-0 defeat against Thailand on Wednesday.
“It’s part of the learning, part of the journey and we’ve only just started that journey at this level of football. We haven’t been at this level of football for a long time,” he added.
The women’s national team still has a chance to win their first bronze medal at the SEA Games since 1985 when they take on Myanmar at 5pm (Manila time) at Cam Pha Stadium.
The Filipinas beat Thailand in last January’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which was part of their historic path to winning a ticket to the 2023 Fifa World Cup, but Stajcic acknowledged that Thailand has made the biannual meeting its playground has, while his team is just beginning to work towards reaching that level.
“Thailand were undoubtedly the better team. Her passing was better, her movement was better, her finish was better,” he said.
The decorated Australian coach, who took charge of the women’s national soccer program last year, has remained patient as the Filipinas made headlines earlier this year after qualifying for the World Cup.
“We’ve only been to the last Asian Cup in Jordan and in India so you know we’re going to stay at that level for four to five years compared to Vietnam and Thailand and those players in Thailand have been to two World Cups, three to four Asia trophies, they’ve all had more than 100 caps and they’ve shown their experience and quality,” he said.
“It’s a learning curve for us. We are new at this level and we will get better, we are not afraid of that.”
Stajcic and the Filipinas are trying to get over the hump of not finishing on the podium after back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the last two SEA games.
The women’s national soccer team is hoping to end a 37-year medal drought against Myanmar, who won 2-1 in their third-place match at Binan, Laguna last year in 2019.
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