MANILA, Philippines - The Azkals are set to play against the lower ranked Papua New Guinea in a friendly match to be played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Sunday, October 12.
As part of the Philippine national football team’s preparation for the upcoming Suzuki Cup in November, a supposed tune-up match against close Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia was originally scheduled to be played instead but the Malaysians decided to postpone the contest due to schedule conflicts with their domestic league.
Instead the 134th rated Azkals will now face world ranked 199th Papua New Guinea in a match in the national team’s home stadium in Manila.
According to FIFA’s website, aside from the game against the Papua New Guineans, the Philippines will also play against Nepal later this month in Doha, Qatar.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Rappler, national team head coach Thomas Dooley revealed that the team would be training for the whole week to bolster the team’s fitness and chemistry going into the games.
A total of 32 players have been called up for the training camp which includes Patrick Deyto, Nicholas O'Donnel, Amani Aguinaldo, Jeffrey Christiaens, Kenshiro Daniels, Juan Guirado, Anton Del Rosario, Simone Rota, Daisuke Sato, Rob Gier, Paolo Bugas, Jason De Jong, Curt Dizon, Christopher Greatwich, Simon Greatwich, Mark Hartman, Manuel Ott, Paul Mulders, Jose Elmer Porteria, Misagh Bahadoran, Carli De Murga, Emilio Caligdong, Patrick Reichelt, James Younghusband and Phil Younghusband.
As per the Azkals official Facebook page, Jerry Lucena, Roland Mueller, Mike Ott, Alvaro Silva, Javier Patino and Martin Steuble will also be part of the training pool but their availability will still be “depending on the release of their overseas clubs.”
Consequently, Dooley also emphasized that he is glad with the team’s development in the past months but stressed that fitness will be one facet that the team will be working on.
“I am happy how the team developed with the way we play. The reason why we lost was maybe because the players were a little bit too tired. I think we have to play a little smarter to score wins and really finish our chances then we’ll be okay. So that’s what we are working on. We are working on being fit.”
He added that their goal is to bring home the Suzuki Cup title but reiterated that it is too early to tell as the team has just started their preparations for the cup.
“Realistic goal is winning the Suzuki Cup. I mean, if you look at everything, we are number one in Southeast Asia that means on the paper that we are the best team but not necessarily the best team in talk so you have to show them in the field so realistically we can win, but are we gonna win? I don’t know. We will see.” -