25 February 2011

Azkals wrap up Baguio training

Philippines - The Philippine Azkals have completeds their weeklong camp in Baguio City and officials are satisfied with what the team achieved in the high-altitude training in the build-up for their AFC Challenge Cup away game against Mongolia next month.

“I’m very contented; we gained a lot from this camp,” said Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss, who set the sessions at the Summer Capital to improve the stamina of the team.

“High altitude can lift aerobic endurance, which is what we need in the last 15 to 20 minutes of a match,” added the German mentor.

Yesterday at the Brent pitch, Weiss subjected the team to attack-oriented drills, staging a six-a-side play with bigger goals but a smaller field. He said this is intended to develop the players’ instinct to shoot during actual matches.

“The field is tight, the spaces are tight so with a few touches they can already shoot,” he explained.

The Azkals, who earlier swarmed the Baguio Pinikpikan team in a tuneup, 9-1, will play one more friendly this morning, against the Benguet Selection, before going back to Manila in the afternoon.

Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta said the Azkals will participate in the EDSA Fun Run on Sunday then resume training at either University of Makati or International School.

They are set to be in Fukushima, Japan for the final stretch of preparations March 6-12, hoping to acclimatize to the chilly conditions expected when they play Mongolia in Ulan Bator on March 15.

The Azkals thumped Mongolia in the first leg of the tie, 2-0, in Bacolod City, but Weiss cautioned fans against writing off the Blue Wolves altogether in the second leg. The Mongolians need to beat Phl by three goals to steal the tie and advance to the group stages.

“People think the game is already over which is not the case,” Weiss said.

The Azkals are gearing up for Mongolia with top goalie Neil Etheridge, defender Rob Gier and midfielders Chris and Simon Greatwich doubtful participants due to previous commitments. Likewise, midfielder Jason de Jong will be joining the team late as his new club, Persiba Balikpapan, has a scheduled game in the Indonesian Super League two days before the match.


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