By FRANCIS SANTIAGO
MANILA, Philippines — German coach Hans Michael Weiss said the Philippine Azkals will play two Japanese university teams as part of their training camp in Japan starting March 7.
Weis said the matches will raise the team’s confidence as they prepare to meet Mongolia in their AFC Challenge Cup rematch next month.
The Philippine national football team wraps up its high-altitude training in Baguio City today as the 43-year-old Weiss looks forward for more challenging opponents in a bid to whip his boys into fighting form for the March 15 showdown in Ulan Bator, which ABS-CBN’s Studio 23 will continue to air live starting 12 noon.
“We’re hoping to arrange the matches on March 8 and 11,” Weiss said Thursday.
The matches are being arranged by the Japanese Football Association which agreed to host the Azkals’ training camp until March 12 in the J-League football facility in Fukushima, Japan.
The winter weather in Japan suits well for their preparation for the cold weather in Mongolia, which reportedly drops between -2 and -15 degrees Celsius.
“We still have to work on our rhythm,” said Weiss, who may miss four of his Fil-foreign players – goalie Neil Etheridge, Rob Gier and Simon and Chris Greatwich – because of various commitments.
“We still have to work on passing quality and the cohesion between midfield defense and backline.”
The Azkals close out their Baguio training today with another tune up match against a Benguet selection team. On Wednesday, the Azkals, powered by Phil Younghusbands’ four goals, crushed the Baguio-Benguet team in a friendly match, 9-1, before some 3,000 fans in La Trinidad, Benguet.