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Alen Stajcic calls on fans to help football grow in PH as 'dreams' fulfilled by Filipinas

The Filipinas' AFF Women's Championship win should be a stepping stone toward growing football in the country says Coach Alen Stajcic. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

MUNTINLUPA--When the Azkals became one of the fastest-rising national teams in the world last decade, many Filipino football fans hoped that they will either qualify for the FIFA World Cup or win the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup.

Those dreams were fulfilled this year, but it was the women's team, the Filipinas, that completed the job.

However, Coach Alen Stajcic doesn't want to make it a reason for the fans to compare both squads.

"I don't like comparing 'coz men's football has to compete with men's national teams and we have to compete against women's national teams. There is no correlation between who's strong in men's and women's football," Stajcic told Dugout Philippines on Monday, the day after the Filipinas won it all in the AFF Women's Championship.

The newly-crowned champs met the media at the tournament's official billeting area, the Crimson Hotel here, to discuss how they cherished the moment on Sunday night.

The Filipinas clinched the title in style, beating Vietnam in the Friday semis and Thailand in the Sunday final by a combined seven goals even as Olivia McDaniel kept clean sheets in both matches.

"We achieved this in our own right," Stajcic further said.

He also said that their home-field advantage should not be an issue and that winning the AFF Women's Championship is a great achievement in itself wherever the tournament will be played.

"It doesn't matter where you win it. It's an incredible achievement. For us to beat teams that are much more experienced than us--being into the World Cups and winning SEA Games and AFF titles before--that's a massive achievement," Stajcic added.

He then calls on the Filipino football fans to do their part in growing the sport in the country, and a good start, according to him, is by simply appreciating the Filipinas' success.

"We should just appreciate the success that this team has had and hopefully all in the Filipino football [community] embrace it, and the sport grows for everyone," Stajcic further said. "It's really about growing the sport and playing the game for everyone."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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