On January 14th the Tongan people suffered a severe blow with the violent eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano causing a tsunami in the country and sending a cloud of ash and gas vapor into the air. As a result, the entire population had to be evacuated in a hurry, without power and communication. Unfortunately five people died due to the consequences of the volcano – being three in Tonga.
Soon after the disaster the people of Tonga joined forces to help the country restructure itself for better days. Football would logically be the last thing on Tonga’s list of concerns this year – the men’s national team was forced to withdraw of the World Cup qualifiers. Then came the question of whether the women’s team would be able to play the OFC Women’s Nations Cup or not – which will also serve as a qualifier for the Women’s World Cup.
The doubts came to an end early last week, when the Tongan Football Federation announced that the women’s national team would leave for Sydney to face the Philippines in a friendly match on April 22th.
The Philippine women’s national team has qualified for the 2023 World Cup – which will take place in Australia and New Zealand. Earlier this month they played two friendly matches against the Fiji women’s national team also in Sydney.
Tonga lost 16-0 to the Philippines in the friendly match last Friday. It is a painful defeat but the experience ofnfacing a high level team serve as a learning experience for the girls.
Now, the Tonga women’s team will spend another month in Australia preparing for the OFC Women’s Nations Cup – which will take place this July in Fiji.