It wasn’t easy, says Stajcic.
A total of 26 women made it to the final lineup that will represent the Philippines in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup. 23 were named to the actual squad with three standing as reserves.
The team is led by captain Tahnai Annis, co-captain Hali Long, and perennial top scorer Sarina Bolden. All three of them seems to be automatic additions, but filling in the rest of the roster wasn’t as straightforward, says coach Alen Stajcic, especially with a talented pool to choose from.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve given a lot of players their opportunity and grown the depth of this squad to a substantial level. In a positive way, we’ve got such a pool of players that made the final 23 [selection] even more difficult than I thought it would be,” Stajcic said in a statement.
The revered Australian coach, nonetheless, believes that the players who showed that they deserve a spot all got in—that means the footballers who performed and looked their best in the last year and a half.
The national team also just completed a four-week camp in Sydney before the final roster decision was made.
“It was such an extremely tough choice, but these players were ultimately the ones who put their hands up and impressed the most in recent times and based on current form,” Coach Alen said.
“They are the ones that my coaching staff and myself think will represent the Filipinas the best and gives us the best possible chance to perform at our peak in the World Cup,” he added.
The Women's World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand this year, is the most prestigious football tournament in the world. The Philippines is making its historic debut in the event.
While expectations are tempered, fans are hoping for the best when the Pinays play in New Zealand.
The Filipinas will kick off their campaign on July 21 when they face Switzerland in Group A.