The Philippine Azkals will hold a two-week training camp in Doha, Qatar prior to the resumption of their campaign in the second round of the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta confirmed the Doha camp tentatively set for May 18 to 31 following discussions with the Qatar Football Association.
Araneta added that the Azkals could hold friendly matches against teams that are also slated to train in the Qatari capital in preparation for the Group A matches to be held in Suzhou, China next month.
“As you know very well, it’s so hard to train now in the Philippines so we have decided to do a training camp in Qatar,” Araneta said during the PFF’s virtual press briefing Wednesday, May 5.
“We are lucky that there are other teams that will train there as well so we can have friendly matches. I think one is Palestine, and the other is Syria,” added Araneta, who also said that China arranged a chartered flight for all Group A teams to emanate from Doha.
Team manager Dan Palami welcomed the Qatar camp since it would give the Azkals coach Scott Cooper some time to hone their skills before the Qualifiers.
So far, the team has yet to complete the squad list for Doha, but Palami has requested for 26 players to join the camp, including those who have yet to secure their passports.
“We are thankful to the PFF for the good relationship he has with Qatar, otherwise it’s going to be a difficult time for the national team and maybe a nightmare for Coach Scott in getting the players together,” said Palami.
“But with this development, we are thankful and hopeful the preparatory camp will be a success and it will allow us to give everybody a good competition in China when we go there.”
The Azkals resume their campaign on June 3 against Guam before facing host China on the 9th and Group A leader Syria on the 15th.
The Philippines is level on points with China at seven points apiece, eight clear of Syria which has won all five matches during the 2019 international windows. The top team and possibly the second placer in the group will advance to the third round of the World Cup while getting an automatic slot in the 2023 Asian Cup.