31 July 2012
Rematch with Indonesia in Azkals’ busy sked
By Cedelf P. Tupas
ADD a rematch with Indonesia to the already busy schedule of the Philippine men’s national football team in September.
The Azkals, bracing for a tough battle in the AFF Suzuki Cup late this year in Bangkok, are slated to face their 2010 Suzuki Cup tormentors in another international friendly match, this time, in Jakarta.
Azkals manager Dan Palami said they are requesting Indonesia to move the date of the match to Sept. 11 to allow the Filipinos to have their European-based players in the team as the game falls on an international friendly date.
The Philippines and Indonesia battled to a 2-2 draw in a friendly last June 5 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with brothers Phil and James Younghusband scoring.
The result was an improvement for the Azkals, who have lost all their meetings with the Indonesians in recent years, including a couple of 0-1 defeats in the Suzuki Cup two years ago.
Indonesia is also preparing for the Suzuki Cup, where it has been grouped with defending champion Malaysia and Singapore.
Stepping up their buildup for the biennial tournament, where they are looking to at least match their historic semifinal finish two years ago, the Azkals are also slated to undergo a two-week camp in the United States starting Aug. 4, playing Chicago Inferno and the US Virgin Islands.
The match against the Inferno will be held in Chicago on Aug. 11, while the duel with the Virgin Islands is set in Indianapolis on Aug. 17.
The Azkals’ September schedule will also include a match against Cambodia on Sept. 5 in Phnom Penh and a clash against Singapore two days later and the four-nation Paulino Alcantara Cup in Bacolod on the last week of the month
The showdown with Laos in Vientiane, initially scheduled Sept. 10, could be moved to Sept. 15 if Indonesia agrees to the Azkals’ desired date, Palami said.
Palami said the matches will not only be an opportunity for the Azkals’ Europe-based players time to improve cohesion, which has been a concern for the team, but also provide a chance for the homegrown standouts to gain exposure.
“We will give some of our Europe-based players time to play together in the friendlies,” said Palami. “But there will be times when we will have an all local-based group playing which can only be a positive sign for the team. We can only get better with more matches.”