Azkals in full force for Middle East friendlies-A A +A
Thursday, October 11, 2012
GAINING momentum for the AFF Suzuki Cup this coming November, the Philippine Azkals will try the mettle of Bahrain and Kuwait on October 12 and 16, respectively, hoping to fine tune the team's strengths and weaknesses.
Coach Michael Weiss' wards will play two tough and higher ranked teams but our Azkals are on roll and in high spirits going in these two crucial matches. This time however, the Azkals will be playing with Phil and James Younghusband who rejoin the team after missing the Philippine Football Peace Cup last month.
What are we going to expect in the Middle East friendlies? Here's a guide:
Mix It Up. Coach Weiss enjoyed the performance of his new recruits in Matthew Uy, Demet Omphroy, and the emergence of Denis Wolf as the Azkals' main striker in the Peace Cup. This time, he will test the chemistry of the team by merging his mainstays in Angel Guirado, James and Phil, Ray Jonsson, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena among others.
Will the team blend in this short span of time? We think coach Weiss has something up his sleeve that will surprise Mid East contenders in Bahrain and Kuwait. This is a scheduled FIFA friendly and we expect Bahrain and Kuwait will make it hard for our team but the Azkals are gearing up and we anticipate a battle in the Gulf.
Azkals Confidence. The Philippine Azkals are enjoying its strongest performance in years in FIFA standing by ranking 147 in its latest card. However, Kuwait (rank 112) and Bahrain (rank 115) are way above us. Their rankings show how competitive these teams are.
If we can recall, Kuwait eliminated us in the second round of the World Cup qualifying last year ending our hopes of progressing for a better finish. This time, they will be facing a different Azkals line up that has matured through time and played with much intensity in its previous games.
Do we see some upsets in the making? Yes. Our team has evolved and definitely our opponents are wary with the way the rising Azkals are playing. Two quality victories will surely catapult our ranking further.
Old Reliable. Chieffy Caligdong will play a vital role in these matches, as he will act as the team's ultimate leader, the glue the binds the squad to perform better. The team will look for his field guidance and leadership.
As team captain, he will be coach Weiss' voice in the pitch. Chieffy will definitely live up to expectation and much more. His mere presence commands respect and this should be the way our team should play: with pride for the glory of our country. (Junjun Carballo/Contributor)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 11, 2012.