Souped-up Azkals host Indonesians tonightBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MATCH TODAY (Rizal Memorial Stadium)
7 p.m.—Philippines vs Indonesia
THE PHILIPPINES, parading one of its strongest football lineups yet, gets a crack at a former tormentor in Indonesia when they clash in an international friendly tonight at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. with the Azkals looking for a better result against the Indonesians in the second of their three-game calendar of friendly matches this month.
The Azkals, who held Malaysia to a scoreless draw last Friday, have a score to settle with the Indonesians, who beat them via 1-0 scorelines over two legs in the 2010 Suzuki Cup semifinals in Jakarta.
Both teams have different lineups now with the Azkals strengthened by the entry of several foreign-raised players, while Indonesia is missing some of the stars who were instrumental in their run to the semifinals two years ago.
“We have a different team but the desire to work hard is always there,” said Indonesia striker Irfan Bachdim.
The Indonesians are currently deprived of their best talents because of a Fifa ruling barring players in unsanctioned leagues to represent their country. Most of the stars of the national team see action in the breakaway Indonesia Super League.
“A lot of things have happened the past two years and it’s water under the bridge for us,” said defender Rob Gier. “What’s important for us is to keep winning and improving.”
The Azkals, though, suffered a blow Sunday night when creative midfielder Stephan Schrock was forced to leave the team and return to Germany because of family issues. Still, the Azkals will have Fil-Danish duo Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara also joining the side.