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Axed Matildas coach Alen Stajcic lands surprising new role

After two years out of women’s football, former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic is back in the game, having been announced as the new head coach for the Philippines women’s national team.

Stajcic, who enjoyed a four-and-a-half year spell as the head coach of Australia up until his highly controversial exit in 2019, had been out of work since leaving A-League side Central Coast Mariners in June earlier this year.

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He was subsequently replaced by Ante Milicic who led the squad at the 2019 Women’s World Cup before exiting the role to take up the reins at A-League newcomers Macarthur FC.

The 47-year-old led the Matildas as they made history at the 2015 Women’s World Cup to become the first-ever Australian team of either gender to win a knockout game in the tournament.

He was preparing to take charge of the Matildas at the 2019 Women’s World Cup but was sacked in January 2019 because he had overseen a poor culture seeping into the squad, although Stajcic claimed he didn’t know the true reason as to why he was booted from the role.

Stajcic, who was short-listed for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award in 2018, will be joined by Nahuel Arrarte as his assistant coach, with the pair having previously worked together in the Matildas’ set-up from 2017 to 2019 when Arrate was Stajcic’s understudy.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta Jr believed Stajcic’s appointment would give the nation its best shot at an appearance at the biggest tournament in women’s football.

“We are thrilled that Alen Stajcic has accepted the position to be the head coach of the Philippine Women’s National Team,” Araneta said.

“His appointment shows the commitment and determination of the PFF to give our women’s national team the best possible chance to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

Jefferson Cheng, the manager of the Philippines women’s team, felt Stajcic was the man to take a talented team to the next level.

“We know that the Philippine women’s team has the capability to be one of the top teams in Asia at least,” Cheng said.

“We are all excited by the arrival of coach Alen and we wish him all the best as we seek a place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.”

Stajcic replaces the outgoing Marlon Maro, who took over in July this year and helped steer the nation to qualifying for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

The Philippines are ranked 68th in the FIFA Women’s Rankings.

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