Historic detail as A-Leagues boss named Stajcic’s Philippines successor: ‘Dream come true’

The Philippines’ Australian theme will continue, even without Alen Stajcic, after the women’s national team appointed Western United’s Mark Torcaso as head coach.

Torcaso guided Western to the 2022-23 Grand Final in their inaugural Liberty A-League season and he will now lead the Philippines in a dual role alongside assistant Andrew Durante, who is player welfare and development manager at the A-League Women outfit.

The pair will remain in their respective roles at Western, who kick-off their season away to Perth Glory on October 14.

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Torcaso succeeds fellow Aussie Stajcic, who led the Philippines to their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the country – boasting Western duo Angie Beard and Jaclyn Sawicki – scored their first goal and celebrated an historic maiden victory. Stajcic has since been announced as the new head coach of Perth Glory in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

“It is truly an honour to take up this position with the Philippines. It is a dream come true to be taking on an international coaching opportunity,” Torcaso – last season’s Coach of the Year in his debut campaign at ALW level – said.

“This opportunity is one that we couldn’t pass up and we are incredibly grateful for the support of everyone at Western United in making this work.

“The Philippines have obviously been a great story over the last year and it is really exciting to be able to work with this group. I can’t wait to get started and bring more success to this nation.”

Torcaso, along with Durante, will head into camp next week before the first round of matches in September – the Asian Games in China, and October’s 2024 Olympic Games qualifiers, which include a match-up with the Matildas in Perth.

The Philippines and Australia, who reached the World Cup semi-final, go head-to-head on October 29.

“We welcome coach Mark (Torcaso) and his staff to the PFF family,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta.

“We are confident that they will continue raising the standards of the Philippine Women’s National Team on all aspects and take the team to greater heights at the back of a historic and memorable 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.”

One of the most-capped players in the history of the A-League Men, former Western, Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets defender Durante retired at the end of the 2020-21 season.

The 41-year-old returned to Western in a new role last year, appointed player welfare and development manager, while he also works with the club’s academy program.

“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started. I followed the Philippines’ journey at the World Cup because of Jackie and Angie and was really impressed with the team,” Durante said.

“Everyone at the club has shown incredible support for us and we are both extremely excited to bring all of our commitment into both of our roles.

“This is a huge step in my coaching journey to be able to help coach a national team and I simply can’t wait to begin, to learn and develop and take on every new experience that comes.”

Western’s general manager of football Mal Impiombato added: “We are immensely proud as a football club that Mark and Dura have been given this opportunity on the back of their hard work and excellence in their positions.

“Mark showed his talent as a coach with us last season and he is richly deserving of this opportunity, while Dura has had a phenomenal impact at our Club since returning and is ready to take the next step in his journey.

“We are delighted to allow them both to take this opportunity while remaining committed to Western United and we look forward to watching their progress with the Philippines in the future.”