The Philippine Azkals, bannered by Philippines national football senior players, are all set to compete in the Long Teng Cup slated September 26 to October 4 in Taiwan.
Azkals coordinator Ace Bright, in a press conference hosted by Pharma-Rex Inc. with Cortal SQR at The Marco Polo yesterday, said the team will hold camp in Bacolod City on Sept. 8 to 15 as part of their preparations for the upcoming event.
The team will play three exhibition games including a match against Global FC on Sept. 9 and Central Philippine University on Sept. 11. Another friendly game is set on Sept. 13.
“We hope that the Bacolod camp and the series of exhibition matches will help the Azkals’ stint in Taiwan as they will be pitted against strong teams like Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei,” Bright said.
The Azkals’ clash against Hong Kong will be on Sept. 30 while their encounter against Chinese Taipei will be on Oct. 2.
Macau will be their next assignment on Oct. 4 in the single round-robin format bootfest.
Iloilo native Rogel Gener, for his part, said they have started rigid training under the close watch of German coach Michael Weiss.
The 37-year-old Gener added in the vernacular, “We expect hard training when we start our camp in Bacolod although we have already been training mornings and afternoons every day. Coach would want us to be ready for the Long Teng Cup.”
Left winger Yannick Tuazon, right winger Misagh Bahadoran and defender Nestor Margarce joined Gener in the panel along with Pharma-Rex Inc. marketing manager Victor Oliveros.
Tuazon, who has roots in Tagum City, said they are taking one game at a time after failing in their bid in the World Cup qualifier.
“We believe in the sport of football. We believe that we can excel in it. Davao, being one of the biggest cities, has lots of open fields where kids can play football,” Tuazon said.
Of the 25 Azkals mainstays, Gener said Tuazon is the only one qualified to play in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games where the football event requires participation of under 23 years old players only.
Margarce, in an interview, said only five pure-blooded Filipinos are in the team that’s why they feel the pressure of living up to expectations and play in the best of their abilities.
Bahadoran admitted that the country does not have to hire Fil-foreign players to form a champion team.
He said, “We need to get younger players. In football, players need to start young say age seven or 10 or even younger. We can’t always rely on Fil-foreign players to play for the country.
Our team manager Dan Palami is starting to promote the sport in the grassroots level and that’s the best way to start forming a champion team.”
Oliveros said Azkals and Cortal SQR share the same challenging beginnings as their product also battle `giants’ in the pharmaceutical industry.
“In a country where people are huge fans of basketball and boxing, football is also gaining popularity through the Azkals. We believe that it is in football where we can excel and compete against the great teams in Asia. It is our aim that Cortal SQR will be a household name just like the Azkals,” Oliveros said.
He also said that the best football players in the country may soon come from Davao where the sport has already been established several years ago.
The four Azkals, meanwhile, thanked Cortal SQR for giving them relief from pain during practices and actual games. (MLSA) Published in SunStar Davao