By: Michelle Fe Santiago
Warmups in Bahrain helped in acclimatization’
KUWAIT CITY, July 19: The Philippine Azkals arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday evening after their two friendly matches in Bahrain in preparation for their match with the Al Azraq (Kuwait National Football Team) for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers slated for July 23 at the Mohammad Al-Hammad (Qadsia Club) Stadium in Hawally.
The Azkals were welcomed by Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) officials led by Ambassador Shulan Primavera and Labour Attache David Des Dicang as well as Bader Abdul Jalil, the Technical Director of the Kuwait Football Association (KFA).
“We are very happy to welcome the Philippines National Football team to Kuwait. I’ve seen their two games against Sri Lanka and they played very well. We have high respect for the team and Kuwait is preparing for the match this coming Saturday, “stated Abdul Jalil as he joined the Philippine embassy officials in welcoming them at the VIP Lounge at the Kuwait International Airport.
Azkals German coach Michael Weiss told the Arab Times that the team’s two tune-up matches with the Bahrain team had helped the Azkals acclimatize to the scorching heat in the Gulf. “Our team will do our best when we face Kuwait,” he quipped.
Meanwhile, Dan Palami, the Azkals Manager expressed happiness over the warm welcome accorded by the embassy officials to them. “Our brief stay in Bahrain had helped the team in adjusting to the weather and we hope the weather gets better during the match,” he stated.
On the other hand, a huge crowd of Filipino Azkals football fans trooped to the arrival area at the airport and waited for the team but were later dismayed to learn that the Azkals will be ushered in to the VIP Lounge. “I’ve been here since 6 pm, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Azkals and I feel so bad that I wasn’t able to see them,” lamented Argie Dale.
Ambassador Primavera tried to talk to Abdul Jalil if the Azkals can go out of the arrival area on the other side, however, it was not possible. “As much as we wanted to let the Azkals go out of the arrival area but the arrangement has been done by the KFA and it’s not under our control. We hope they would understand that. Let’s all support the Azkals on Saturday,” he pointed out.
On their way out, the Azkals got out of the bus upon seeing some Filipino fans waiting for them at the VIP gate and gamely posed with their fans as the group cheered for them.
Meanwhile, the Al Azraq are busy with their daily practice under the tight watch of head coach Goran Tufegdzic. “We are more experienced...I believe in our team but I respect the Filipino team. I know it is a very strong team.. and we will give our 100%, “ he told the Arab Times.
The team doctor was also on standby during the practice at the KFA football field to ensure that all the players are in good physical condition. “Physically all the players are feeling good...physical fitness is 100%. I hope everyone is in top shape during the game, Inshaallah,” stated Dr Ali Al-Shammali.
During their practice, Kuwait Football Federation President Sheikh Talal Al-Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dropped by to wish the players good luck in their match with the Philippine Azkals.
KFA Media Officer Talal Al-Mehteb informed that tickets priced at KD 5, KD 3 and KD 2 will be available on Thursday at 5 pm at the KFA Headquarters in Adailiya and at Qadsia Club Stadium. Tickets will also be sold on Friday and Saturday at the two venues. Arab Times Online