THE Philippines will have another Australian in Mark Torcaso to handle the women’s national team program.
Torcaso, 42, is the reigning A-League Women Coach of the Year, having led Melbourne-based club Western United to the grand finals in its inaugural Australian league season early this year.
He is taking over from compatriot Alen Stajcic, who steered the Filipinas’ meteoric rise in the past two years highlighted by their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance.
Stajcic, together with his long-standing assistant coach Nahuel Arrarte and analyst Stevan Antonic, is now with Perth Glory in the A-League men.
Former New Zealand international Andrew Durante is also part of Torcaso’s coaching staff.
Another Australian, Sinisha Cohadzic, will be Torcaso’s assistant with the Filipinas and will also serve as head coach of the Girls’ Under-17 and Women’s Under-20 national teams.
“Watching the development of the team over the last couple of years has been amazing, from the AFF Championship to the World Cup, and I feel honored to be able to try to continue this growth,” said Torcaso, who also worked with the India women’s national team in one of their camps last year.
“I am excited to take on this opportunity and I can’t wait to meet the players and the other staff in camp next week. I look forward to the challenge alongside Sinisha (Cohadzic) and Andrew (Durante),” he added.
Torcaso’s first two tournament for the Philippines are the Hangzhou Asian Games in China next month and the AFC Olympic Qualifiers in Perth, Australia in October.
Durante, who is player welfare and development manager at the A-League Women outfit, said he has admired the success of the Filipinas in recent months.
“It is an honor to now be working with them,” Durante said. “Like Mark, I’m looking forward to the challenge and I am confident that we will be able to continue the team’s success. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity and I look forward to what the future holds for this team and for the Philippines as a whole.”
Even with their duties with the Filipinas, Torcaso and Durante, will remain at Western United.
Cohadzic, an AFC Pro License holder, also expressed his excitement on his role with the Philippine Football Federation’s women’s program.
“Being able to contribute my skills and expertise to a group of talented and dedicated athletes is truly a dream come true,” Cohadzic said.
“Working with the women’s national team will not only allow me to be a part of their journey towards excellence, but also to contribute to the growth and development of women’s sports in the Philippines. I am committed to supporting these remarkable athletes in achieving their goals, both on and off the field,” he added.
“I am grateful for the trust and opportunity extended to me, and I look forward to building strong relationships with the players, coaching staff, management, and supporters of the team. I am confident that our collective efforts will result in a successful journey filled with achievements and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Cohadzic will handle the country’s Girls’ Under-17 in the AFC Asian Cup qualifying tournament in Vietnam next month.
“We are all excited to start training and competing again. We welcome Coach Mark and his team to Philippine football, and are excited to see them build on the Filipinas’ recent achievements,” team manager Jeff Cheng said.
The Philippines’ historic and memorable Women’s World Cup in New Zealand saw the country’s first-ever goal scored by Sarina Bolden in a stunning 1-0 win over the co-hosts.
Goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel was sensational during the competition, having the third-most saves with 18, three more than Golden Glove awardee Mary Earps of runners-up England.
“It is important that we continue the momentum from the Filipinas’ historic FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign in New Zealand,” said PFF general secretary Atty. Ed Gastanes.
“We have a motivated and accomplished coach in Mark Torcaso together with his staff, ready to lead our women’s teams in upcoming competitions,” he added.