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Bacolod City, PhilippinesTuesday, March 8, 2011
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Azkals start training in Japan

The national men’s football team, the Azkals, left for Japan last night for the last leg of their training before they head for Mongolia for their second game in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers scheduled on March 15 at Ulan Bator.

Negrense Eduard Sacapano, tapped to be the team’s goalkeeper in the absence of Neil Etheridge, who will not be able to suit up for the team, said the team is doing well and they are ready for the game.

The below zero temperature, however, will be their biggest problem, Sacapano said, and he hopes that the training in Japan will help them adjust to the weather in Mongolia.

“It is snowing now in Japan and we will train there until March 12,” Sacapano told the DAILY STAR. He said they will travel to Mongolia on March 13.

Before their Japan training, the Azkals also spent time in Baguio where they had friendly games against local teams.

Earlier, the Philippine Football Federation received from Mizuno, the official outfitter for the Azkals, winter gear for the team. The sponsor came up with a specially-designed thermal uniform for the players to cope with the freezing weather in Mongolia.

Glad and excited for the chance to be the team’s goalkeeper in the second game against Mongolia, Sacapano said he will do his best to make the Filipino nation and his fellow Negrenses proud.

He said coach Michael Weiss has made some adjustments in their play and they are confident of another win against the Blue Wolves.

The Azkals are enjoying a two-goal advantage against Mongolia after Ilonggo Chieffy Caligdong and Fil-Briton Phil Younghusbands scored for the team during the February 9 first game at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

A win, or at least a draw, on March 15 against Mongolia will allow the Philippine team to advance to the next round where they will face Bangladesh, Palestine, and Myanmar.*NAB



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