Virginia Tech player called up to Jordan WNT for World Cup qualifier
BLACKSBURG (Via Virginia Tech University) – The 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, a tournament that will serve as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will be held from April 6-20 and will be hosted by the country of Jordan. In preparation for that event, the Jordan Women’s National Team is heading to Spain for a training camp and Virginia Tech women’s soccer student-athlete Alia Abu El Hawa will be joining the squad.
Abu El Hawa, a rising senior at Tech, has played 51 matches for the Hokies with 47 starts, including all 18 games in 2017. The Vienna, Virginia native was born in the United States, but her father Salman Abu El Hawa is Jordanian.
“The coaching staff at Tech told me that the Jordanian National Team’s coach Mike Dickey was interested in having me join the team, but he didn’t know if I was Jordanian,” Alia said. “I am originally Palestinian and Iraqi, but my dad was born in Jordan, so that’s how I am able to play with this team.
“He (Dickey) had seen video of me playing, so I was able to connect with him and we chatted for a while. I told my mom (Fadia Alkazali) about it and how excited I was about the opportunity. So, I’m leaving Tuesday to go to Madrid and join the team.”
Abu El Hawa will be gone almost two weeks as the Jordan National Team will play three friendly matches against Spanish clubs, facing Madrid FFC on February 15, Rayo Vallecano on February 20, and Atletico de Madrid on February 22 in wrap up of camp.
“I have not travelled, except when I was really young,” Abu El Hawa said. “I was actually supposed to go to Jordan back in January to play with the team for training and a game against Afghanistan, but I couldn’t get my passport in time. So for this, I had to get my passport rushed.
“I don’t know any of the players, and I do speak Arabic, but it’s really broken since I don’t really have anyone at Tech to practice with. So, it will be a little hard to communicate with the other players, but the coach actually doesn’t speak Arabic either, he translates to the team through the captain.”
Slotted as a midfielder, Abu El Hawa will join the 22-player squad as it prepares for the Asian Cup. Jordan was drawn at group A along with China, Thailand, and the Philippines. While Group B consists of Japan, Australia, Korea, and Vietnam.
The top two teams of each group qualify to the Asian Cup semis and secure an automatic qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The fifth and last ticket to the World Cup will be decided in a playoff match between the two groups third place holders.
Abu El Hawa is excited about the opportunity and what it means heading forward in her life.
“I really don’t know what I want to do after college, and playing soccer has kind of always been an option,” she said. “So, I’m excited that this opportunity has come up because after this, it will help me in figuring out if this is what I want to do after college, if it fits and everything works out.”