PH women’s football team eyes full US training camp for AFC Asian Cup
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine national women’s football team is looking at holding camp in Irvine, California for its AFC Asian Cup buildup.
National team head coach Marlon Maro said the team has to look elsewhere to train with face-to-face practices still not allowed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country.
Maro also said the team is pressed for time with the tournament, which serves as a qualifier to the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, to be staged in India is just three months away.
“[The chances of holding] face-to-face [training] here is bleak because the government has made it clear that the only time the country will start to really open up is when the general population is vaccinated,” Maro said in Filipino during the PSA Forum on Tuesday.
“And we can’t wait for that moment because the games begin in January. So the plan is for me to go to the US because they’re already open there.”
However, the plan, which has its fair share of challenges, is still up in the air with several players and members of the coaching staff yet to secure a US visa.
The US Embassy in Manila is currently only accommodating emergency visits in America.
“The problem is the visa. So I hope we’ll be able to book a schedule,” said Maro, adding the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is looking at seeking the help of its US counterpart, which has been very supportive of the local football federation ever since.
The Philippines is riding high from a successful stint in last month’s Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where it swept Group F with identical 2-1 victories over Nepal and Hong Kong.
In preparing for the qualifiers, the team had to be divided into two groups. One group trained in the US while the other remained in the Philippines to train via online under assistant coach Rose Barinan due to visa issues.
“There were two different training camps with the locals staying here in Manila and trained via Zoom meeting,” midfielder Rocelle Mendano said. “It’s really hard because we need match fitness, but fortunately, we were able to adjust right away when we arrived in Uzbekistan.”
The Filipino female booters hope to undergo training camp, which is likely to start in November, together this time.
“We cannot do that anymore,” said Maro. “We’re looking to it and hopefully, we can have the entire team in California unlike in the first part of our campaign in the group qualifier where our preparation consisted of two sections. We cannot do that because in the AFC Cup, the 12 best countries in Asia are present there in India.”
The top five teams in the AFC Cup advance to Australia for the World Cup, where no Filipino team has yet to make it.