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MELBOURNE, Australia – After a trail-blazing Women’s World Cup campaign under one Australian manager, the Philippines will have another in charge of their Asian Games tournament in China this month.
Mark Torcaso was confirmed as Alen Stajcic’s replacement last week, the former Australia coach having stepped down after guiding the Filipinas to their first World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Torcaso was named Coach of the Year in Australia’s A-League Women – the nation’s top flight competition – for guiding Western United to a runners-up finish in 2022-23, their first season in the league.
Despite his credentials, Torcaso was shocked to get a call from the Philippines soccer federation and had to check with Philippines international Angie Beard, a player he once coached, to be sure he wasn’t being pranked.
“I did ring her and I actually asked her, ‘Do you know anything about this?'” he told the A-League’s Keepup website on Friday, September 1.
“Because I didn’t believe the phone call, initially.
“She goes: ‘Mark, you’d be great at this level’. It was great to hear that from a player who I’d coached for many years but I’m looking forward to working with her in that environment.”
Torcaso has other links to the Southeast Asian team, with Canada-born midfielder Jackie Sawicki having been his captain at Western United.
The Philippines were knocked out of the group phase in the Women’s World Cup but thrilled home fans by beating co-hosts New Zealand for their first win at the tournament.
The much-improved team will aim higher at the September 23 – October 8 Asian Games in Hangzhou where they have expectations of a medal, despite never before qualifying for the quadrennial event.
Having a full roster of their North American-born internationals will be crucial for their chances.
“Our expectations (are) they’ll be there for the Asian Games and we’ll just pick the best possible side that’s available,” he said. – Rappler.com