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Filipinas locked and loaded for Olympic qualifiers 2nd round

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine women’s national football team head coach Mark Torcaso will have a capable arsenal at his beck and call when the Filipinas begin their campaign in the second round of the AFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Perth, Australia on Thursday.

As the Filipinas shoot for a historic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Torcaso has a full-strength roster, with a huge chunk of 2023 FIFA World Cup squad back in action after missing the Asian Games in China last month.

Now with the competition happening during a FIFA window, more players became available, like Filipino-Australian Angie Beard, Dominique Randle and Tahnai Annis, who were unable to suit up during the Asiad.

Only coaching in his second tournament with the Filipinas, Torcaso relished getting to know his players more, and having more pieces to maneuver in their three games Down Under.

“Yeah, it’s really exciting to be quite honest because you know, we had 29 to 30 players in Melbourne last week and we were able to look at some local-based players, as well as some players that we haven’t seen before,” Torcaso said during a media availability on Wednesday.

“But now that we’ve been able to put together a really strong 22 players for this campaign, there’s a lot of good quality and squad depth that we probably just didn’t have during the Asian Games.”

The Asiad squad had the likes of Sarina Bolden, Hali Long, Chandler and Olivia McDaniel, Inna Palacios and Eva Madarang. They also made it to Torcaso’s cut for the Olympic qualifiers.

Despite missing some players in China, Torcaso was able to lead the debuting Filipinas to a quarterfinals finish in the regional tournament.

As another hurdle beckons, the Aussie coach is eager to test the full potential of his 22-woman roster against Chinese Taipei, Australia, and Iran to hopefully make it to the next round of OQT.

“You know, pending everyone’s fitness and obviously the travel commitment and time, it’s a really good opportunity for a lot of the players again to get to know us and for us to get to know them, and spend a bit of time together in this really good competition, which is gonna be great against some of these opponents,” he said.