WITH the Philippine Azkals unable to find an opponent for a friendly match in the next international break, coach Thomas Dooley will hold a training camp for his expanded pool that will include Under-22 standouts in the first week of June.
The Azkals are preparing for the group stage of the prestigious AFF Suzuki Cup, which the country will host for the first time from Nov. 19 to 26 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.
Dooley wanted to face an opponent ranked higher than the No. 115 Azkals during the international window, but the Philippine Football Federation said teams in the coach’s radar have already scheduled matches with other countries.
Syria was supposed to play the Azkals in the first week of June, but football officials of the war-torn country informed the PFF last month that it was no longer pursuing the match.
Azkals manager Dan Palami is looking at the positive side of the team’s predicament.
“At least, we can get a closer look at some fresh talent that could make an impact on the team,” said Palami.
The Azkals are setting their sights on a first Suzuki Cup crown, after three straight semifinal appearances, starting in 2010 in Vietnam.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta earlier confirmed two friendly matches against Kyrgyzstan with the Azkals traveling to Bishkek for a game on Sept. 16.
The Azkals will host the second friendly in Manila on Nov. 9.