By Cheska D. Geli
Friday, December 9, 2011
SOME four years after losing to Malaysia, 4-0, in the AFF Championships, the Philippine national team will get a chance to get even as it is set to take on the Suzuki Cup champions in a friendly match on Feb. 29 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Philippine team manager Dan Palami said the Malaysia game is just one of a series of friendlies the team will have in preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup.
Aside from Malaysia, the team will also have a match against a Spanish third division team and teams in the Gulf nations.
CF Madrid, which plays in Spain, expressed intentions to come over and play the Azkals on Jan. 7 but the national team requested to have it rescheduled since it is too close to Christmas break.
Both camps decided to have the game on Jan. 21 in Rizal Memorial Stadium and that match will be also be televised in Spain.
“This shows the tie between Spain and Philippines is strong and it’s a good opportunity for us to strengthen the relationship,” said Palami.
The Azkals are also scheduled to play against Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar on Feb. 6 to 15.
Palami said the international friendlies were products of the LA Galaxy Game against the Azkals last Dec. 3.
“Many international teams are now showing interest to play here in the country,” Palami said.
The New Zealand All Whites, which made the World Cup in 2010, was supposed to play the Azkals on Feb. 29 but backed out due to a prior commitment.
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) then decided to invite Malaysia instead for the Azkals’ final friendly game before leaving for the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal in March.
In the Challenge Cup, the Philippines will meet North Korea on March 9, India on March 11 and Tajikistan on 13.
North Korea, India and Tajikistan are all previous winners of the Challenge Cup and the Philippines will be missing the services of team skipper and defender Aly Borromeo.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 10, 2011.