|Photo courtesy of mongolian_azkalme’s photostream|
The Philippine football team arrived in Ulan Bator early Sunday and got a chilling reminder that it would have to deal with more than just Mongolia in the second leg of its AFC Challenge Cup duel.
Temperatures ranging from minus 16 to minus 20 degrees Celsius greeted the Azkals in their first few hours in the Mongolian capital, where they will be hoping to protect their 2-nil first-leg advantage.
The Mongolians need to win by at least three goals to prevent the Azkals from advancing to the AFC group stage, but the Azkals’ coach, Hans Michael Weiss, is confident they can survive the challenge.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami is also upbeat with the team’s chances.
“It’s just another adversity that the team has to overcome,” he said. “I know the players very well and rest assured, they will be there fighting for every ball on Tuesday despite the cold.”
But concerns remain on how the players will deal with the extreme weather in Ulan Bator, which is about 4,300 feet above sea level.
“We will just try our best to overcome the cold,” said co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the scorer of the first goal in the opening leg in Bacolod City last February 9, in a separate interview.
The match is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m., said to be the hottest time of the day in Ulan Bator.
The Azkals’ conditioning coach, Josef Malinay, who is with the team in Mongolia, said the game could be played at minus 4 degrees.
“The wind is the killer,” Malinay said.
The squad was still awaiting the arrival of Filipino-Icelandic defender Ray Jonsson and Fil-Dutch midfielder Jason de Jong, who would fly in from Indonesia, where he has been playing club football. (By