With the whole country practically experiencing a surge of new COVID cases in the past few weeks and the subsequent upgrade to Alert Level 3, the Philippine Azkals have to scuttle plans to hold a camp by the end of January.
Azkals’ team manager Dan Palami says they have to put into consideration the various quarantine protocols and travel restrictions being implemented not only here but in other countries as well where a number of Azkals are currently based.
“With everything going now in the world, and the rising cases in Europe and in the Philippines as well, we thought that the safety of players and our coaching staff was paramount so we decided to forego that important camp. Our team is composed of new players, younger players who need to have time together but unfortunately we can’t do that,” Palami explained.
Palami, however, revealed that there are plans to hold the camp in March in the hope that things are more feasible by that time. He said that there are FIFA calendar dates in March that will allow the international players of Azkals to go to the camp.
“We are looking at playing some games, maybe two games in Europe plus some training for the team,” added Palami.
Palami refused to reveal, for now, where exactly and which team they are going to play against, but he gave a clue.
“We are looking at a region in Spain as a possible venue for the camp and the games. We are still finalizing the details but in principle, there have some agreements among parties already. We just can’t disclose more details until the contracts are signed,” he said. “Once this is done, the parties will announce it together.”
For the meantime, local-based Azkals will have to train on their own. Their Under-23 counterparts are busy, despite quarantine restrictions and all, gearing up for the U-23 AFF Suzuki Cup set to unfold next month in Cambodia.
“Even assembling the team locally has been a challenge. Most of the players are in the provinces and those coming from outside the Philippines are having a hard time getting their flights. It is really a challenge,” Palami said.
The Under-23 camp and try-outs will start on Monday, January 24, 2022. With the players coming from a long break, Palami is not sure about their fitness. Palami is also giving much consideration on the possibility of the U-23 team leaving early for Cambodia.
“It will depend on the level of quarantine protocols in Cambodia. If they have stricter and longer quarantine protocols, it will be more ideal for us to just go to Cambodia much earlier and have the training there. Our foreign-based players can just fly directly to Cambodia and meet the team there,” Palami quipped.
Palami clarified that although there were call ups, the composition of the U-23 team is not yet final. The camp will include 2-3 days of tryouts and there will be players coming from youth teams before and newly-discovered talents who will compete for spots in the national team. The coaching staff then will choose the final composition of the team.
The U-23 team is in Group A in the competitions along with host Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Brunei. The team’s first game will be on February 14, 2022, 4 p.m. local time against Timor Leste at the Morodok Techo National Stadium.
While the Philippine Azkals and the U-23 team are preparing for the upcoming camp and tournament, the Philippine Women’s National Football team is actually competing for a possible spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20 next year.
The Malditas will face Thailand, 8 p.m Philippine time this evening at the Dy Patil Stadium in Navi, Mumbai as the ladies open their bid in the SFC Women’s Asian Cup in India 2022. The team will next face Australia on Monday, January 24, 6 p.m. Philippine time at Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai before wrapping up their campaign in the group stage against Indonesia on Thursday, January 24, 10 p.m. Philippine time at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.
The top two teams and the best third place team in the three groups will advance to the next round.
The Malditas’ chances to qualify to the World Cup is very promising. The team is in top form and is coming from a two-month camp in Irvine, California.
“We were able to work on all the technical and tactical aspects and really get aligned with the group and form the team chemistry.
Everyone is on the same page. They all know what their roles are on and off the pitch and have formed a strong bond,” Allen Stajcic, the national team coach, said in an IG post.
The team is composed of goalkeepers Inna Palacios, Kiara Fontanilla, and Olivia Davies McDaniel; defenders Dominique Randle, Tara Shelton, Hali Long, Kristen Bugay, Morgan Brown, Isabella Flanigan, Soña Harrison, and Kartina Guillou; midfielders Male Cesar, Tahnai Annis, Camille Rodriguez, Jessica Miclat, Anicka Castañeda, Sara Castañeda, and Keanne Alamo; and forwards Chandler McDaniel, Carleigh Frilles, Sara Bolden, Eva Madarang and Quinley Quezada.
Good luck Malditas!
And lastly, there is a reason why it is called Australian Open, Novaxx Djokovic!
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!