PFF announces key matches and new initiatives

PFF Director for National Teams Freddy Gonzalez

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has unveiled a series of international pocket tournaments for the Philippine Men’s National Team (PMNT) and home friendlies for the Philippine Women’s National Team (PWNT) in the latter half of 2024, marking a significant period of activity and development for Philippine football.

During a press conference on Monday, PFF Director for National Teams Freddy Gonzalez detailed the upcoming events, highlighting the PMNT’s participation in the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia this September and the King’s Cup in Thailand in October.

These tournaments serve as critical preparation for the 2024 ASEAN Mitsubishi Cup, previously known as the AFF Championship.

The PMNT’s busy schedule will also include an away friendly against Hong Kong and a home match against either Brunei or Chinese Taipei in November, just ahead of their ASEAN opener against Myanmar on November 27 in the Philippines.

On the women’s front, Gonzalez announced that the PWNT will host friendly matches on November 29 and December 6.

These home games are scheduled shortly after the men’s national team’s matches against Myanmar and Vietnam, respectively. The exact opponents for these friendlies are yet to be confirmed.

Gonzalez will temporarily manage the PWNT, ensuring the same level of management as the men’s team. “For now, you got me,” he stated, emphasizing the continuity and quality of the women’s program. He assured that star players like Sarina Bolden will remain integral to the team.

“We’re going to take a look at the processes and everything that these guys have done the last few years to see if any changes need to be made, if anything needs to get better. But we don’t want to… At least my department doesn’t want to break up something that has been working,” Gonzalez explained. He plans to hold a Zoom meeting with the current PWNT lineup and coaching staff on Wednesday for further assessment.

Football fans can look forward to a packed month of football from November to early December, with Gonzalez promising action until the end of December if the PMNT advances to the final of the Mitsubishi Cup.

The Merdeka Cup will see the Philippines compete against host Malaysia, Tajikistan, and Lebanon. Meanwhile, the King’s Cup features matchups against host Thailand, Syria, and Tajikistan—teams that reached the knockout stages of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

In addition to these tournaments, PFF President John Gutierrez announced the establishment of the PFF Women’s League for 2024, with plans for two divisions. “There will definitely be a women’s league this year,” Gutierrez confirmed. “Rest assured that this is a priority for the Federation.”

Gonzalez also hinted at the potential recruitment of overseas Filipino talent for the PMNT, starting with Filipino-Norwegian Bjorn Martin Christensen, who has already secured his Philippine passport.

Additionally, Filipino-American standouts from Major League Soccer and the United States under-20 national team are considering committing to the Philippines. The eligibility of Nick and Anthony Markanich and Elias Katsaros is currently being processed.

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