Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Azkals say training in Japan going well

Posted by chardyboy on Wednesday, March 09, 2011 0 comments

source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The cold weather doesn’t seem to pose a problem for the Philippine football team, at least on the first day of their training in Japan.

Honing their skills in the city of Gotemba on the southeastern flank of Mt. Fiji, the Azkals, most of whom were experiencing extremely cold weather for the first time, were hardly bothered by the zero-degree temperature as they went through passing and shooting drills at an artificial pitch.

The Azkals are toughening up for the return leg of their AFC Challenge Cup qualifying duel with Mongolia in subzero conditions in Ulan Bator on March 15.

The team holds a 2-nil edge against the Mongolians, which it earned in the first leg at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. The Mongolians need to win by at least 3-nil to eliminate the Filipinos.

“Trained at zero degrees earlier,” said Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo on his account on social network site Twitter (@alybor11). “All the boys didn’t seem to mind the cold too much.”

“(We’re) Alive in Japan. (It’s) cold but amazing,” said defender Anton del Rosario (@anton_delro).

“Cozy place, great soccer complex and great food,” added Del Rosario in describing the world-class facility in Japan, the top team in Asia.

“The team is okay, there’s coughing because of the cold but we are okay,” Chieffy Caligdong, the scorer of the opening goal in the first leg, also said on Twitter.

The Azkals will play a tuneup match against a university team on Wednesday. Another test match is scheduled on Friday, before they fly to Ulan Bator on March 13.

Shortly after arriving in Japan, Azkals team manager Dan Palami moved to quell concerns that “distractions” off the pitch had hampered their preparations for the Mongolia clash.
Palami did not specify these “distractions,” although star striker Phil Younghusband was in the news recently because of rumors on his links with celebrities.

“While most sectors have welcomed the Philippines’ football renaissance, some concerns about the potential distraction of fame and celebrity for players have resulted in unfortunate controversies,” Palami said in a statement. “I would like to categorically assure everyone that the coaches and I are taking all steps necessary to ensure that the Azkals always give their best.”

Palami said the Azkals have endured so much to become competitive in the international arena.

“As we prepare for our match in Mongolia, we hope to bring closure to polarizing disagreements and bring focus to what every sport is really all about: bridging differences and bringing people together,” Palami added.

Two members of the team – Jason Sabio and Simon Greatwich – are expected to join the team on Thursday, while Ray Jonsson and Jason de Jong will be with the team in Ulan Bator a day before the match.

The Azkals will miss star goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who will be replaced by Eduard Sacapano, defender Rob Gier and Chris Greatwich.

If the Azkals overcome the Mongolians, they will advance to the group qualifying in Rangoon against host Myanmar, Bangladesh and Palestine from March 21 to 25.


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