By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - After their high-altitude training camp in Baguio City, the Philippine Azkals will start practicing on artificial turf, the playing surface that will be used in the second leg of their AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match with Mongolia on March 15.
The Azkals are set to train at the International School in Taguig this week before heading to Japan on March 6 for their final stretch of preparations at the J-Village in Fukushima, the training facility of the Japanese national team. Both facilities offer artificial surfaces.
“We want them to train on artificial turf because the game in Mongolia will be played on artificial turf,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta.
The IS training and the subsequent Japan camp are expected to familiarize the Azkals with the artificial surface, which is said to offer a different bounce and spin than natural grass, especially when wet.
The Azkals will practice at IS until Friday. They will be encamped in Japan until March 12 and will fly straight to Ulan Bator for their match.
“The Japan training will also serve to acclimatize the team. Although it is colder in Mongolia, Japan will have 6 degrees so pwede na rin (it will do for acclimatization),” said Araneta.
Baguio, the coldest point in the country, was more for high-altitude training than acclimatization.
“We had them train in Baguio primarily to develop their stamina,” Araneta said.