Azkals hope to hit paydirt in ‘springboard’ tilt | Inquirer Sports

Azkals hope to hit paydirt in ‘springboard’ tilt

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 09:32 PM September 29, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Returning to the tournament that served as springboard to the sensational run that thrust them to prominence, the Philippine Azkals seek to finally end the country’s wait for an international football title in the Long Teng Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, starting Friday.

The Azkals, with a slew of promising newcomers in the lineup, kick off their campaign against defending champion Hong Kong at 4:30 p.m. at the 55,000-seater Kaohsiung National Stadium.

With a stronger lineup, hopes are high that the Azkals can finally hit paydirt in the four-nation tournament that includes Chinese-Taipei and Macau.


“Of course, we want to win the tournament, but the teams here are also taking this tournament seriously,” said team manager Dan Palami.

The Filipinos have a score to settle against the defending champion Hong Kong side, which handed them a 2-4 loss in their opening-day match last year when the Azkals used the tournament as a warm-up for the Suzuki Cup.

That loss against Hong Kong sparked an eight-game unbeaten run for the Azkals up until the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup, where they lost to Indonesia.

“It will be good to see how far the team has gone since we lost to Hong Kong last year,” said Palami.


The Long Teng Cup calls for a single-round robin with the team getting the most points taking the crown.

Underscoring its seriousness to nail back-to-back titles, Hong Kong, ranked 10 places higher than the Azkals at 155, is fielding its senior team.


Like the Azkals, Hong Kong was also eliminated in the second round of World Cup qualifying, losing to Saudi Arabia, 0-8, on aggregate. The Azkals lost to Kuwait, 1-5, over two legs.

The Azkals’ German coach Michael Weiss believes the match against Hong Kong could decide how his team will finish in the tournament.

“We have a good chance but I don’t think we are the favored team,” said Weiss, whose team will face Chinese-Taipei on Sunday and Macau on Tuesday.

The Azkals have one player familiar with the Hong Kong style of play in debuting Filipino-Chinese midfielder Lexton Moy, who spent a year playing for Tai Chung FC in the Hong Kong first division.

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Also expected to make their debuts are goalkeeper Roland Muller, defenders Carli de Murga, Oliver Poetschke, Reymark Fernandez, Lemuel Unabia, Nickson Leonora, Mark Hartmann and Jeff Christiaens.

Co-skippers Aly Borromeo and Chieffy Caligdong lead the side, along with Phil and James Younghusband, strikers Angel Guirado and Misagh Bahadoran and veterans Ian Araneta, Eduard Sacapano, Jason de Jong and Roel Gener.

TAGS: Azkals, Football, Long Teng Cup, Philippines, Sports, Taiwan

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