Copy of 2023-07-30T091909Z_929314282_UP1EJ7U0PVVB2_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-WORLDCUP-NOR-PHL-REPORT-1690890533116
Philippines coach Alen Stajcic looks dejected after Philippines are knocked out of the World Cup. Image Credit: Reuters

Manila: Philippines coach Alen Stajcic has left his post after the national team’s exit from their first Women’s World Cup, the Philippine Football Federation said on Tuesday.

The Philippines have shaken off their status as regional minnows since Stajcic’s appointment as coach in late 2021 - they have jumped from 68 in the FIFA rankings to a best-ever 46th.

The Philippines were not expected to get out of their group, but caused a major upset by beating co-hosts New Zealand for a historic first World Cup win before a 6-0 defeat to Norway on Sunday ended their adventure.

The Philippine Football Federation said Stajcic and assistant coach Nahuel Arrarte had “decided to explore other options” at the end of the World Cup campaign.

“Coach Alen Stajcic’s appointment as Philippine Women’s National Team head coach brought women’s football in the Philippines to new heights and hope,” PFF president Mariano Araneta said in a statement.

“Coach Alen showed full dedication to hone the Filipinas into a fighting team. He will long be remembered as the coach who trained and dared the team to win at any international competition,” Araneta said.

Wealth of experience

Under Stajcic, the Philippines made the semi-finals of the Women’s Asian Cup in early 2022, where they lost to South Korea but secured a historic World Cup berth.

They followed it up with bronze at the Southeast Asian Games last year, then won the regional AFF Women’s Championship on home soil.

Stajcic was a major reason for the Philippines’ improvement.

He brought a wealth of experience after a playing and coaching career in Australia.

He coached Australia at the 2015 World Cup and took the Matildas to as high as fourth in the FIFA rankings, but was dumped despite guiding them to the 2019 tournament.

After the Philippines’ loss to Norway, Stajcic said he was “proud of the heart and spirit” of the team, but ducked questions about his future as coach.

“We will reflect on that for now and in the coming days we will start making plans for the future,” he said.