By Josef T. Ramos
For Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano Araneta, the two victories of the “Azkals” during exhibition games in Duren Germany are so important in gauging the team’s capability before playing against Sri Lanka in the first round of World Cup qualifying.
Araneta told The Manila Times on Sunday in phone interview that the Azkals were currently training hard without any distractions in Germany that would give them enough edge when they play in Sri Lanka’s hometown in Colombo on June 29 in the first leg.
“They [Azkals] are focusing now,” said Araneta, who is also confident that the Azkals could sweep the two legs of the first round of World Cup qualifying if they would only concentrate in their everyday training. “The team’s defense and offense have improved a lot.”
Araneta lauded the Azkals’ victories against Duren selection, 4-1, in their first match on Wednesday and whipped Bonner, a U-19 German squad, 4-1, last Friday. Those wins, according to Araneta, will serve as morale-booster.
For their third match, the Azkals will battle Ingolstadt I, a Bundesliga 2nd division team, in Gerolfingen, Bavaria in southern Germany Monday evening.
The final exhibition match before flying to Sri Lanka will be on June 24 against 2010 to 2011 regional champions, Darmstadt 98, a 3rd division squad at the Bollenfalltor stadium in the Hesse region’s Darmstadt City.
He said the team, headed by brothers Phil and James Younghusband, goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, Filipino-Spanish striker Angel Aldeguer, Emil Caligdong, Ian Araneta, Stephan Schrock , Manny Ott, Roel Gener and team captain Ally Boromeo, among others, are now intact. The Manila Times