BY BONG PEDRALVEZ
THE Philippine Azkals began their tune-up series in Duren, Germany with a bang by whipping a Duren-Niederau selection 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Striker Phil Younghusband scored two goals while winger Chieffy Caligdong and Phil’s elder brother, midfielder James, had a marker each in the exhibition match.
The match was the first of five tune-up games aimed to toughen up the nationals for their Asian World Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka that starts in Colombo on June 29.
"Good win against Duren tonight, 4-1 for Azkals. Team slowly getting their act together," national team manager Dan Palami said in a message on Twitter after the game.
"Well done boys, this is the first step, now the next stop," James Younghusband said in a separate tweet, a sentiment echoed by co-captain Aly Borromeo, who said: "Good a.m. Pinas. Happy with the result today. Things are starting to fall into place."
Aside from the Younghusbands, Caligdong and Borromeo, among those that started for German coach Michael Weiss were Filipino-Spanish striker Angel Guirado, Fil-Germans Stephan Schrock, Oliver Poetschke and Manuel Ott and Fil-Dutch Ray Jonsson.
The Azkals will stay in Duren until June 25 before leaving for Sri Lanka the next day for the first leg of their home-and-away playoff against the Red Devils, as the Sri Lankan booters are known, two days later.
The rematch between the two squads is on July 3 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
Meanwhile, PSC chief Richie Garcia yesterday said everything is on target in the renovation of the Rizal Stadium for the Philippine-Sri Lanka match.
"Everything is on schedule, the seats and bleachers at the grandstand or covered area all in place," Garcia said in the regular POC- PSC radio program on DZSR Sports Radio.
"We just finished two rest rooms at the grandstand and we are fixing two more," Garcia said. "We also will set up around 50 portalets around the stadium for the fans who will watch the game.
"We aim to close the stadium and the field soon so it will be ready for the home game of the Philippines," Garcia said, adding the PSC and PFF are coordinating with Manila authorities for security measures during the game.