COACH Mark Torcaso expects the Filipinas to come out of their 19th Asian Games experience, especially the tough matchups with elite sides Korea and Japan, wiser as they shift focus to the coming Olympic Qualifiers.
The Pinay booters nailed a historic quarterfinal stint in the Hangzhou Asiad in their first tournament under Mr. Torcaso, who took over last August after the team’s FIFA Women’s World Cup milestone.
The Hangzhou campaign saw the Filipinas score victories over Hong Kong (3-1) and Asean nemesis Myanmar (3-0) in between a 1-5 loss to world No. 20 Korea en route to the KO rounds. World No. 8 Japan eventually shut the door on the Filipinas, who played one player down from the 28th minute on, with an 8-1 romp Sunday.
“I’ve got no doubt those who played in those very competitive games (against two Top 20 teams) and even the two we won, will have grown from that and are going to be better going to the three tough games we’re going to play at the Olympic Qualifiers,” Mr. Torcaso said in an online presscon from China yesterday.
From the Asiad, the Filipinas are booked for showdowns with host Australia, fresh from its semifinal finish in the last World Cup, Chinese Taipei and Iran in the second round of the Qualifiers for Paris on Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 in Perth.
“No doubt we’re going to be ready mentally. We’ve come up against two good nations here (Korea and Japan), we’re going to be ready to play against three good teams in the OQT,” said Mr. Torcaso.
According to the Aussie mentor, the Hangzhou meet served the team well in terms of familiarization with his system and one another and gaining match experience.
“We had a unique opportunity to work with the players prior to the Olympic qualifiers and that’s the one thing we were happy with. Coming in and being appointed on such short notice, we wanted to get as much time with the players as possible,” he said.
“It definitely served its purpose. We got to play against some good countries and got a feel of what it’s like to play against two Top 20 nations and that’s very, very important for us.” — Olmin Leyba