MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals still have their work cut out in the last three weeks in order to get in perfect game shape for their Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers matchup with Sri Lanka.
“(We’re at) 60 percent (right now),” coach Michael Weiss said when asked to measure how the Azkals are in their buildup for the first leg in Colombo on June 29 and the second leg at Rizal Memorial on July 3.
Part of it, he explained, has to do with the fact that the team is not yet complete.
“Many key players (are still) missing (in our practices) like Aly (Borromeo), (Dennis) Cagara, (Stefan) Schrock, (Jerry) Lucena, (Angel) Aldeguer,” the German mentor said after the Azkals’ practice at the Rizal pitch.
Co-skipper Borromeo attended to a wake in the family while the Fil-foreign booters are based in Europe and will hook up with the rest of the Phl XI in their training camp in Germany from June 12-26. It’s in Germany where Weiss expects the Azkals to reach their peak in terms of physical and mental conditioning as well as team cohesion.
“They’ll all come to the camp in Germany, the whole team will be together in Germany,” said Weiss, whose crew is looking at playing five tuneup matches with German clubs during the two-week camp.
Weiss had previously lamented the Azkals’ lack of total focus on training due to other commitments. But now, he said he’s seen improvement in this aspect, it’s just that most of them are tired from playing too many games for their respective clubs.
“It’s better, but still we have games going on and not all players can fully concentrate. But this is the situation, there are several leagues here and we have to accept that,” he said.
The Azkals will play the United Football League (UFL) All-Stars today at University of Makati, which Weiss described as an “important test match” for them.
By Monday or Tuesday, Weiss said he will be ready to name the 25 footballers who will carry the country’s colors against Sri Lanka.