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Pinay booters non-stop World Cup build-up with global stints

WORLD Cup-bound Pinay booters Filipinas. — AFC

THE PHILIPPINE women’s football team goes through a stacked itinerary as it primes up for its historic stint in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in July.

Coming off a banner year highlighted by World Cup qualification and milestone Asean crown, the Filipinas continue their buildup with stints in the Pinatar Cup, the Women’s Olympic Football Qualification Tournament and the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in the months leading to the July 20 to Aug. 20 global showpiece.

The Pinay booters take on higher-ranked European squads Wales, Scotland and Iceland in the Pinatar Cup slated Feb. 15 to 21 in San Pedro del Pinatar in Murcia Spain, their first competition in Europe.

Next up are the first round of the qualifiers for Paris 2024 set for April 3 to 11 against Hong Kong, Tajikistan and Pakistan in Group E.

Not long after, the Filipinas shoot for the elusive gold medal in the May 5-17 SEA Games in Cambodia.

“Our coaching staff have made very good moves in terms of preparing the players for each competition,” Philippine Football Federation general secretary Edwin Gastanes said in yesterday’s PSA Forum. “If you watch their previous matches, you can see how tough they are and how fit they are.”

With this continuous progress, Mr. Gastanes expressed confidence the Filipinas can contend for the SEAG mint after snaring bronze last time.“It (chances for the gold) is very real. Capability-wise, they’re capable. And they’re training non-stop. Even last December they were training in Sydney,” he said.

“In December of 2021, they had a camp in the US and that’s why they had a very good showing in the January-February (2022) competition in the Women’s Asian Cup, which propelled them to the World Cup. So it’s continuous training,” he noted.

Ultimate goal is to be competitive come the World Cup, where the Filipinas will duel with Switzerland (July 21), host New Zealand (July 25) and Norway (July 30) in Group A.

“We’ll leave no stone unturned (in preparing the Filipinas),” said Mr. Gastanes. — Olmin Leyba

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