MANILA, Philippines—Few expect the Philippine Azkals to stun world football icon David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition match Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
But Beckham—still beaming just hours after arriving in Manila from another friendly in Jakarta—said that this coup of a match may not be as easy as many think.
“We had a difficult game yesterday, our legs haven’t come back yet,” said Beckham, whose Galaxy won over an Indonesian All-Star Team, 1-0, on Wednesday night in the Major League Soccer (MLS) champions’ first game of its Asian tour.
“We expect the game to be exactly the same. We know there are talented players here, so we expect a difficult game. We always try to play diplomatic football, but that doesn’t always happen. We want to win the game no matter if it’s a friendly.”
Even Azkals stars Aly Borromeo, Chieffy Caligdong and the Younghusband brothers James and Phil don’t see themselves getting reduced to star-struck fans as much as they all look up to Beckham and company.
“During the game it’s different, you concentrate on the ball and the players around you,” said Phil in a press conference Thursday at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
“I don’t think anybody of us will be awed. It’s important to be professionals before and during the game. We’ll play the same as we usually play, no matter who the opposition is. I think it’s important we concentrate on our own game. Obviously, LA Galaxy have players of a high standard so we have to play more defensively when you’re playing against such strong attacking players.”
Landon Donovan, the Galaxy captain and all-time leading scorer, admitted however that his team hasn’t heard much of the Azkals.
“We’re not aware of the Azkals, but we’re aware that there’s a Philippine national team,” said Donovan.
“One of the members of our staff back home is from here and we asked her a lot of questions,” he added.
The Galaxy kick off their Manila tour with a football clinic at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, before practicing in front of a paying public later in the afternoon.
Aside from Beckham and Donovan, also set to see action are 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, Mike Magee, Josh Saunders and Robbie Keane, who scored the goal in the Jakarta friendly.
“We expect to play 100 percent,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. “We’re thrilled to be here. We look forward to a real competitive match.”