Azkals resume buildup against KuwaitBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Close to full strength and growing in confidence, the Philippines gets to gauge its football progress against World Cup tormentor Kuwait tonight in another international friendly in Kuwait.
Still looking for their best form, the Azkals hope to get the test they need to be competitive in the AFF Suzuki Cup in Bangkok next month.
The Azkals have been grouped with Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, which topped the qualifying stage in Yangon over the weekend.
The Azkals are coming off a scoreless draw against Asian powerhouse Bahrain in Manama last Friday in what could go down as one of the best results the country has produced internationally.
It was the Azkals who created the better chances with veterans and young players displaying cohesion that has reflected the rapid development of the side assembled by coach Michael Weiss.
But the side looks to surpass that result against the Kuwaitis, who bundled them out of the second round in World Cup Qualifying last year.
“It would be interesting to see how far we’ve come since those games with Kuwait last year,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami. “We will always have to consider the way the team plays.”
Kuwait won both legs and 5-1 on aggregate with the lone goal coming from Stephan Schrock in the return leg at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Schrock is the only significant name missing from the side for the match set at 6 p.m. (11 p.m. in the Philippines) with Phil and James Younghusband and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge all making their return to the lineup.
The brothers were left out of the Peace Cup lineup because of commitment issues and were forced off the Bahrain trip because of scheduling difficulties.
Loaned by Fulham to fourth-division side Bristol Rovers, Etheridge will be making his 37th appearance for the national team.