By Olmin Leyba
Phil Younghusband, the popular Azkals striker who’s recovering from injury and engaged in a number of off-field activities, promised to be “match-ready” in time for the Philippines’ Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers duel with Sri Lanka in June.
“I’m slowly getting back into it,” the Fil-British striker said during the Azkals’ training session at the Rizal Memorial pitch.
Younghusband missed the group stages of the Asian Challenge Cup qualifiers last March after suffering a torn hamstring in the Azkals’ previous playoff match with Mongolia in Ulan Bator. Following treatment and rehab, he’s back in harness and even played for San Beda in the PFF Smart Club Championships Luzon Regionals early this month.
He suffered cramps over the weekend and was forced to just do some light workouts by himself at the sidelines while the rest of the team practiced for the first time at the decades-old Rizal pitch. Younghusband said he will rejoin the drills today.
“Fitness-wise, I’m okay, but not yet match sharp. In terms of general fitness, maybe I’m 90 percent now but it’s the match sharpness that I still have to work on,” the 24-year-old forward said.
He assured everyone that he’ll get there by the time the Azkals fly to Colombo for the first leg on June 29 and host Sri Lanka at vintage Rizal on July 3.
“I’ll be ready by June, provided of course I won’t incur any more injury,” he said.
While recovering from injury, Younghusband has been busy with The Younghusbands Football Academy with his brother James as well as product endorsements and public appearances.
“Everyone else still have jobs and commitments same as me. But everytime there’s an Azkals match, we make it our priority. It’s really all about scheduling,” he said.
A slew of Fil-foreigner strikers like Chad Gould, Leigh Gunn, OJ Porteria, and Nathan Burkey have come over to vie for slots to the team, in effect giving Younghusband a challenge to the starting spot. But he sees no problem with this.
“Competition’s good for the team, otherwise, we’ll never progress. If there’s no competition, we might get too complacent thinking we already got our spot at the starting lineup,” he said.
The Azkals will hold their afternoon practices at the refurbished Rizal pitch until weekend before heading to Iloilo for a friendly game and Cebu for their team-building sessions. By June 1, they intend to resume practices at Rizal until their departure for Germany on June 12 for a two-week training camp. Source