THE Philippine Azkals are now on the thick of preparations for grabbing the country's first football medal in the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia this November.
Long regarded as minnows in the region, the Azkals' exploits here and abroad proved that the team can now compete against better teams such as Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia, team manager Dan Palami said in a briefing.
"The intention is finally for the team to bag its first medal in the Southeast Asian Games. And of course, we need to meet a weaker team in the semis so that we'll have a (chance for that) medal," he said.
Coach Michael Weiss, currently in vacation in his hometown Germany after the failed 2014 World Cup campaign, will resume training with the country's Under-23 squad and other senior Azkal members on August 24.
In the original Azkals line-up, Palami said 21-year-old goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has expressed interest to play for the Philippines while they are still trying to sign up 20-year-old midfielder Jason de Jong.
Other members will be selected from the 30-man pool as he kept mum on details with regard to the final roster of the Indonesia-bound players.
"We will also bring them (Under-23 team) to the Long Teng Cup (in October) so that they will gain experience from an international competition," Palami said.
After the four-nation Long Teng Cup in Taiwan, the team will also mix it up with powerhouse teams in the Gulf Region along with India and Pakistan.
Sun Star Manila