The Philippine women’s football team has California in its sights as it gears up for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India starting in January.
National team head coach Marlon Maro said a US trip needs to be done considering face-to-face training in the country is restricted due to strict coronavirus protocols.
Moreover, the Filipina booters have to return to the pitch as soon as possible if they want to increase their chances of a top-five finish, which will result in qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“It’s hard to do face-to-face training here because the stand of the government is that we will only open [establishments and the economy] once the general population is vaccinated,” Maro said during the Philippine Sportwriters Association online forum on Tuesday, October 5.
“We can’t wait for that moment because the games will start in January.”
“So the plan is to go to the US because they’re open there.”
The national crew punched their ticket to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup for the second straight edition after ruling Group F of the qualifiers in Uzbekistan with identical 2-1 victories over Nepal and Hong Kong.
Maro and his wards accomplished this despite having the team split training – those who have visas flew to the US, while those who did not stayed here and practiced online under assistant coach Rose Ton Barinan.
Still, Maro would like to have the whole squad at his disposal in the US as they try to become the first Filipino team to reach the World Cup.
“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 that we had two sections of preparation.”
“We cannot do that because in the AFC Cup, the 12 best countries in Asia are present there in India.”
The California training, though, has yet to be finalized since players and members of the coaching staff have yet to secure their US visas.
At the moment, the visa section at the US Embassy in Manila is only accommodating emergency visits in America.
“Getting visas is the problem. So I hope we can get a schedule,” said Maro, adding the Philippine Football Federation is looking to seek the help of its US counterpart. – Rappler.com
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