By CARLO ANOLIN
The Philippine women’s national football team has reunited with head coach Alen Stajcic for the start of their training camp in Irvine, California for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“We’ve been looking forward to this camp after a memorable and unforgettable AFF campaign,” said Stajcic as quoted in an article posted by the Philippine Football Federation.
Twenty-seven players have joined the camp including familiar faces and newcomers who will be assessed by the coaching staff.
Stajcic, though not mentioning names, said there will be new five booters as “we look to further strengthen the team and increase the depth leading into 2023.”
That said, the Filipinas are set to face World Cup co-host New Zealand in a friendly at the Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium on Sept. 6, Tuesday (Sept. 7 in Manila).
The Australian mentor added that facing a New Zealand side, ranking No. 22 in the FIFA World rankings, “will provide stern competition and build on the experience we have in the team.”
Meanwhile, team manager Jefferson Cheng is optimistic that the Filipinas are “on the right track” as far as their chemistry is concerned.
Holding camps overseas and engaging in friendlies might be challenging but are necessary for the team’s improvement, he added.
The Filipinas, under the tutelage of Stajcic and behind the leadership of Sarina Bolden and Tahnai Annis, among others, made history by winning its first FIFA-sanctioned title and international stint during the AFF Women’s Championship held here in the country last July.
The Filipina booters finished as semifinalists in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asia Cup, clinching yet another historic feat by securing the Philippines’ first-ever World Cup berth.