Given the short-time of training as a team, the Philippine Azkals are committed to play their best and defend their title against Chinese Taipie tonight at 7 p.m. as the 2nd Philippine Football Peace Cup opens at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Brgy. Mansilingan, Bacolod City.
In a press conference yesterday, Azkals coach Michael Weiss admitted that ideally, he prefer to see the Azkals training longer as a team but just have to make the most of it as some of the Fil-foreign professional players are only available three to four days before the tournament.
Still, Weiss said they have a strong team this year and like in the previous international matches, the level of competitiveness of the players is high.
Tonight’s match at the Panaad against the Chinese Taipei will be rerun of last year’s final, with the Philippine team scoring a 3-1 win to capture its first football title in 99 years.
But just as the Filipinos are ready for the battle, notwithstanding jet lag and playing in unfamiliar pitch for the new inclusions in the team, the Chinese Taipei side is equally prepared to redeem themselves in last year’s final match.
Taiwan’s assistant coach Fang Ching-Jen said they have a young team compose of players from their country’s top colleges.
To enhance the team’s competitiveness, Fang said they tapped players who have Olympics experience as reinforcements.
Meanwhile, Philippine Football Federation general secretary Edwin Gastanes said the PFF is upbeat with its second hosting of the Peace Cup as they consider the tournament as football’s contribution to help highlight every Filipino’s desire for peace.
“Football values of fair play and respect are aligned with the ongoing peace process,” Gastanes said.
Flying in from Europe for this year’s Peace Cup in Bacolod City are Stephan Schrock, who plays for the Bundesliga Club Eintracht Frankfurt, Neil Etheridge from Fulham FC, Jerry Lucena from Esbjerg FB, and Rob Geir and Juani Guirado.
Paul Mulders and Angel Guirado, who recently played for Global FC in Singapore, as well as Patrick Reichelt, who plays for Thai Club Singhtarua are alos joining the squad.
Leading the Philippine-based Azkals are Chieffy Caligdong and siblings Phil and James Younghusband alongside Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, Patrick Deyto, Chris Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, OJ Porteria and Negrense keeper Edward Scapaño.
Also to see action for the first time as an Azkal is the 25-year-old Fil-Swiss forward Martin Steuble, who currently plays with FC Wil 1900 in Switzerland.*NAB
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