By Olmin Leyba
A major earthquake in Japan the last time they trained abroad didn’t break the Philippine Azkals’ spirit. An E. Coli outbreak in Germany won’t either.
The Azkals leave for Germany early Sunday, confident they would meet their training goals and undaunted by the bacterial outbreak that has affected Germany and other parts of Europe.
“Magandang preparation ito para sa amin; magkakaroon kami ng four matches doon, sabi ni coach (Micheal) Weiss. Sigurado ako na matinding bugbugan at training ito (This will be a good preparation for us. We’ll play four matches in Germany and I’m sure this will be a tough stint),” said Ian Araneta.
The Azkals would hold camp in Duren town for two weeks beginning June 12 then fly straight to Colombo, Sri Lanka on June 26, three days ahead of the first leg of their Fifa World Cup Asian qualifiers duel with Sri Lanka.
They would be heading to Germany in the middle of the E. Coli outbreak linked to contaminated salad vegetables.
“Hindi naman kami papupuntahin doon kung walang kasiguruhan ang kaligtasan namin (I’m sure we won’t be sent there if they can’t assure our safety),” said Araneta. “Pero para sure, babantayan na rin namin ang kakainin namin doon (Just to be sure, we’ll still watch what we’ll eat there).”
According the World Health Organization, 2,086 cases of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia Coli (EHEC) infection and eight fatalities have been reported in Germany as of June 8, as well as 722 cases of Haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), including 18 fatalities.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute has noted an overall decreasing trend in the number of cases. Moreover, the deadly E. Coli outbreak, according to European Union Health Commissioner John Dalli, is limited to areas around the northern city of Hamburg, some 389 kilometers from Duren.
Team manager Dan Palami said they have made arrangements with authorities in Duren to safeguard the Azkals’s health.
“We’ve been informed before of the epidemic in Germany and we’ve made arrangements with the organizers (of the camp) to ensure that the food we eat will be safe,” Palami said.
Weiss said Duren, a town of 120,000 people near the Dutch border, is free from E. Coli, and presents an ideal training hub.
“It’s peaceful, players can have coffee and do things without distraction. There’s good training facilities, good food, no problem with the virus, no case of the virus in Europe, and the weather is hot similar to Manila. The best condition for training camp where we can focus on what we’re supposed to do,” Weiss said.
This will be the first out-of-the-country training camp for the Azkals since they encamped in quake and tsunami-hit Japan for their AFC Challenge Cup gig against Mongolia last March. Philippine Star