Matthew Baldisimo has taken leave of the Langford training camp of Pacific FC. But he’s got a legitimate excuse to hand to head coach Pa-Modou Kah.
In soccer, the World Cup is the biggest doctor’s note of all. Midfielder Baldisimo, entering his third season with PFC in the Canadian Premier League, has been invited to the national team training camp of his family’s ancestral homeland, the Philippines, for the Asian qualifiers to Qatar World Cup 2022.
The camp is taking place in Doha, Qatar, with the World Cup qualifiers to be played this month at Suzhou Olympic Centre Stadium in China. They will also stand as the qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup to be held in China.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Baldi to represent his family’s country of origin in World Cup and Asia qualifiers,” said Kah.
Kah had a similar international soccer career but in reverse.
The native of The Gambia earned 10 caps with this adopted nation of Norway after his family moved there when he was a kid.
Adding to the mix and mash-up of international rules, based on citizenship, is that Baldisimo played for Canada in U-17 in 2014 and 2015 and younger brother Michael Baldisimo of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps represented Canada U-23 in the recent CONCACAF Tokyo Olympics qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Baldisimos were born in Vancouver to parents from the Philippines and are dual citizens.
“[Matthew Baldisimo] is very excited to play for the Philippines because playing for your country is the highest achievement for a player,” said Kah.
The 23-year-old Baldisimo is the third PFC international this year. Defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere and former Pacific midfielder David Norman Jr. were named to the Canadian U-23 team for the Tokyo Olympics qualifier in Mexico.
“[Baldisimo] will be a great representative for our club and we are proud of him,” said Kah.
Although slight and somewhat undersized at five-foot-10, Baldisimo has been a reliable defensive-minded midfielder who has played an understated but key role for PFC the past two seasons, and is expected to again following his international assignment.
The 2021 CPL season will open in a single-site bubble with no fans in late June or early July and is expected to roll into a more normal format in September with teams playing in their home stadiums with spectators.
Pacific FC CEO and GM Rob Friend pushed back against a report that Winnipeg would host the bubble.
“Our hat is still in the ring [for Starlight Stadium in Langford],” he said.
Friend added B.C.’s recently announced four-point re-opening plan was a boost to PFC’s bid to host. There is no indication when the decision will be made.