MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals, currently with their respective clubs, will link up and get back on training next month to gear up for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup on March 3-18, 2012 in Nepal.
“We start training for the Challenge Cup on Dec. 8,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami of the resumption of sessions set five days after Phl XI’s exhibition match with David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“We intend to do two training camps – one local and one in the Gulf (region) – and then use the (Fifa) international date on Feb. 29 to play against a team either at home or near Nepal, depending on when our first game will be for the Challenge Cup,” he added.
The Azkals reached the Challenge Cup’s main tournament for the first time after placing second in Group B of the qualifiers earlier this year. They will be up against Palestine, 2008 champ India, Turkmenistan, Maldives, 2006 champ Tajikistan, North Korea and host Nepal, whom the Azkals defeated in a friendly (4-0) before they went on a break last month.
Palami admitted the Azkals won’t be a complete team for the Challenge Cup as the presence of the Europe-based pros like Stephan Schrock, Paul Mulders, Jerry Cagara and Dennis Lucena depends on the good graces of their respective clubs.
“At this point in time, we don’t want to be too optimistic on being able to come up with a complete team. However, I’ve asked the coach to make sure that the core team, this means those who are based here, will be prepared so that when we infused two or three players (there won’t be much adjustment),” he said.
The Challenge Cup does not fall under the Fifa international match days, the period in which clubs tend to release players to their national teams.
Only defenders Rob Gier and Ray Jonsson, according to Palami, had committed to be with the team for the duration of the meet. As with the rest of Fil-Euros, Palami said the plan is to “borrow” them for two games and shuffle their stints in the two-week tourney.
“Right now, what we’re trying to do is talk to the clubs to allow them to at least send their players for two games and from there, once we know whom the clubs have allowed, then we determine what game they’ll play – first two games, next two games, those things. We’ll probably play two at a time, maybe Mulders and Schrock, then Jerry (Lucena) and Cagara,” he said.
Singapore Announce New Friendlies
23 minutes ago