By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—New Zealand—a qualifier in the 2010 World Cup—has ruled out playing the Philippine Azkals on the next international friendly date on Feb. 29 next year.
Azkals manager Dan Palami last night said the Kiwis have rejected the invitation of the Philippine Football Federation, citing a prior commitment.
With New Zealand begging off, Palami said they will now turn their attention on convincing Malaysia and Vietnam to play in the friendly, which the Azkals are using as part of their preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal.
“We are just looking to play higher-ranked teams. Any higher-ranked team will actually do for us,” said Palami.
The Azkals have slated a two-month buildup for the Challenge Cup in Nepal with training camps in the Philippines and in the Gulf region.
A showdown with Spanish third division side CF Madrid in January has also been calendared for the Azkals.
With captain Aly Borromeo sure to miss the Challenge Cup because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Palami is hoping to have all players available for the March 9 to 19 Challenge Cup.