The national women’s football team kicks off another intense buildup in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year.
Filipinas head Alen Stajcic and the lady booters already opened camp in Los Angeles to boost their stock for the upcoming friendly matches in the September FIFA window.
The crew of skipper Tanhai Annis, Hali Long and Sarina Bolden are up for a daunting task when it battles World Cup host New Zealand on 6 September at the Titan Stadium in Cal State Fullerton.
It will be their first ever return on the pitch since their historic AFF Women’s Championship run in Manila last month.
The Filipinas are also expected to battle Costa Rica, Uzbekistan and Jamaica in a tri-nation tourney in the same window.
Aside from the championship roster of Stajcic, the squad also beefed up its pool with a handful of callups bannered by Los Angeles Breakers goalkeeper Kaiya Jota.
The Filipinas also tapped the services of Filipina-Norwegian defender Meryll Abrahamsen and Cornell University standout Reinna Gabriel.
Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta previously said the September window will be a very crucial stretch for their preparation as they aim to improve their rankings before the pot draw.
Any win for Filipinas in their upcoming friendlies will help them bolster their FIFA spot and could put them in better grouping for the draw that is set on 23 October.
Despite a historic AFF title and breakthrough Southeast Asian Games medal, the Philippines maintained its position at world No. 53 and 11th best team in Asia.
“Right now, we are in the fourth pot. We just need four or eight points to go to the third pot,” Araneta said.
“Hopefully, we can be in Pot 3 so that we don’t face the heavyweights right away.”