PH women’s soccer team sees all-American training camp for AFC Asian Cup

The PH women’s soccer team celebrates the opening win of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers. PHOTO/Asian Football Federation

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine women’s national soccer team is considering holding a camp in Irvine, California to build up the AFC Asian Cup.

National team head coach Marlon Maro said the team should look elsewhere to train with face-to-face exercises that are still not allowed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country.

Maro also said the team is taking a long time with the tournament, which serves as qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be held in India, in just three months.

“[The chances of holding] eye in eye [training] it’s bleak here because the government has made it clear that the country will not really open until the general population is vaccinated,” Maro said in Philippine at the PSA forum on Tuesday.

“And we can’t wait for that moment, because the games start 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 in the air with several players and members of the coaching staff yet to secure US visas.

The US Embassy in Manila currently only offers emergency visits to America.

“The problem is the visa. So I hope we can book a schedule,” Maro said, adding that the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is seeking the help of its US counterpart, who has been very supportive of the local football federation ever since.

The Philippines are doing well after a successful spell in last month’s Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, beating Group F with identical 2-1 wins over Nepal and Hong Kong.

In preparation for qualifying, the team had to be divided into two groups. One group trained in the US while the other stayed in the Philippines to train online under assistant coach Rose Barinan due to visa issues.

“There were two different training camps where the locals stayed here in Manila and trained through Zoom meeting,” said midfielder Rocelle Mendano. “It is very difficult because we need competition fitness, but luckily we were able to adapt immediately when we arrived in Uzbekistan.”

The Philippine female booters hope to undergo a training camp together this time, which is likely to start in November.

“We can’t do that anymore,” said Maro. “We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can have the whole team in California, unlike in the early part of our group qualifying campaign where our preparation was made up of two sections. We cannot do that because in the AFC Cup the 12 best countries of Asia are present there in India.”

The top five teams in the AFC Cup advance to Australia for the World Cup, where no Philippine team has yet to make it.

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