Spotlight on Manila-based Azkals in twin US matchesBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—The spotlight will be on the Philippine-based members of the national side when the Azkals sees action in a couple of friendly matches in Chicago and Indianapolis on Aug. 11 and 18.
With some of the Europe-based players unavailable due to club commitments, the Azkals will be sticking to the core based in Manila as they crank up their buildup for the Suzuki Cup late this year.
“It’s a fresh lineup and we have a good mix,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, who steered the Azkals to a historic third place finish in the AFC Challenge Cup early this year.
“There are veterans and young players who will be with us even in Manila after the camp. And having that training time will be crucial to the preparations (for Suzuki Cup).”
Phil and James Younghusband have begged off from the camp because of prior commitments, but stalwarts like Chieffy Caligdong and Aly Borromeo as well as Suzuki Cup hero Chris Greatwich are still around to power the Azkals campaign.
In the absence of the likes of Paul Mulders, Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, local-based players like Anto Gonzales, Marvin and Marwin Angeles and Ian Araneta could have more playing time in the matches against the Chicago Inferno on Aug. 11 at the Joe Bean Stadium and the US Virgin Islands on Aug. 18.
Veterans Nestorio Margarse and Roel Gener are also part of the side in the Chicago camp. Azkals manager Dan Palami said the veteran players’ presence provide stability and leadership in the preparations.
“The veterans know their roles in the team and they are as important as any player in the team,” said Palami.
Palami is hopeful that the Azkals’ fitness and cohesion, which have both been a concern for Weiss, will be addressed in the Chicago camp.
Weiss could work behind the attacking quartet of Caligdong, Denis Wolf, Misagh Bahadoran and Patrick Reichelt in the Chicago camp.
“It’s a perfect opportunity for them to prove their worth,” said Weiss of Bahadoran and Reichelt, who are among the second-stringers in the Azkals’ lineup when the Europe-based players are available.