Azkals eye drought’s end
PH could end 99-year wait for title vs Taiwan tonightBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THEIR current form gives them plenty of confidence, but the Philippine Azkals are refusing to get carried away as they seek another milestone tonight in the Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Coming off comfortable victories against Guam and Macau, the Azkals brace for a tougher duel against a Chinese-Taipei squad which they have never beaten in a winner-take-all clash for the Peace Cup.
A draw in the 7:30 p.m. showdown will be enough to give the Philippines its first international title in 99 years after the Far East Games triumph at the expense of China in 1913 in Manila.
The Azkals are also chasing a perfect tournament record—a rare feat in recent years—and hope to pull it off before a gallery bigger than the ones that came for the first two days, turnouts that had coach Michael Weiss worried.
“I hope we will have a full stadium and get this trophy after a long, long time for the Philippines,” he said.
“We still have to finish the job,” said skipper Chieffy Caligdong, who was substituted early in the second half of the 5-0 demolition of Macau to preserve him for tonight’s clash.
Weiss said there will be slight changes in the starting eleven he fielded against Macau, while defender Jason Sabio is an injury doubt because of swelling on his groin.
One thing’s for sure is that Denis Wolf, who netted a hat trick against the Macanese, will be available. The three goals was a huge confidence boost for the Fil-German, who had been misfiring in past matches.
“There’s always pressure (to score), but my teammates have been helping me,” said Wolf, who raised his international goal total to four.
Demitrius Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt and Carli de Murga are also in fine form, while Matthew Uy impressed at midfield, dictating the rhythm of the Azkals play that was highlighted by incisive short passing and clinical finishing.
Misagh Bahadoran also made an impact as a substitute, while Marwin Angeles proved solid.
Weiss was concerned that their third match in five days could take a toll on the squad.
“We hope that our fitness is at the level where I hope it would be,” said Weiss.