MANILA, Philippines - As expected, Bundesliga second division side FC Ingolstadt 04 provided the biggest test for the Azkals in their ongoing training camp in Germany, dealing Phl XI a 4-0 beating in a rain-delayed tuneup early Thursday in Ingolstadt, Bavaria.
Midfielder Andreas Buchner opened up scoring for the Schanzer in the 14th minute, followed up by a header from Fabian Gerber five minutes later as the German pros quickly seized control against the Azkals, who played without leftback Ray Jonsson and Stephan Schrock.
Not even 10-minute rain interruption could turn the game around as the Azkals conceded a third goal – an own goal – at the 30th minute. Azkals keeper Neil Etheridge, according to a report on the Ingolstadt website, lost control on the wet pitch and accidentally “steered the ball into their own net.”
Ingolstadt found the net anew in the 40th minute to settle the issue and gave the Azkals, in deep preparation for their Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers against Sri Lanka on June 29 in Colombo, a reality check.
“We can only gain from the loss and look to get better!” co-skipper Aly Borromeo said on his Twitter account. “The loss was good for us, I say. They (Ingolstadt) were a decent side with a ton of experience.”
The Azkals, who previously scored identical 4-1 victories over Duren Selection and Bonner 19-Under sides, will wrap up their two-week training in Germany with a test match against third division side Darmstadt 98 on Friday.
Meanwhile, organizers of the second leg in Manila said the Rizal Memorial is all set for hosting on July 3 – rain or shine.
In fact, the Rizal pitch is in such a good condition that Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta declared it will still be the venue should the Azkals make it to the second round against Kuwait.
“If we qualify for the second round (of the WC Asian qualifiers), definitely we’ll hold it here at Rizal,” he said during a media tour yesterday.
“For logistics purposes, it’s difficult to use another venue. And we have spent around P3.4 million to renovate Rizal, it would be a waste if we use it for just one game (against Sri Lanka).”