‘Stronger’ Azkals set to begin WC buildup
With the majority of the players now in Manila, the Philippine Azkals begin their buildup for the World Cup Qualifying clash against Bahrain on June 11 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.
The returning Stephan Schrock, new recruits Luke Woodland and Kevin Ingreso and skipper Rob Gier arrived in Manila over the weekend while overseas-based players Jerry Lucena, Iain Ramsay, Stephan Palla and Javier Patino are expected to plane in this week.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley will hold his first training session with the team at Rizal Memorial Stadium today.
“You’re excited to have everybody together,” Dooley told the Inquirer. “If every player can bring 100 percent and more, then I’m very confident that we can be successful. Everybody has to understand that we are in a difficult group in qualifying, so it’s a tough challenge.” Bahrain has already started its preparation over the weekend, playing Oman to a scoreless draw. The Middle East team will play Thailand in a friendly on June 5.
Azkals manager Dan Palami is confident that the team can jell in time for the clash against Bahrain. The Azkals will also fly to Qatar for the duel with Yemen on June 16.
“The first week, we will try to get better with our system and the style we want to play,” said Dooley.
The Azkals last played together in March losing to Bahrain, 1-2, in a friendly in Manama. But the arrival of several new highly regarded players as well as the return of Patino and Schrock has Dooley all pumped up.
Dooley said the new players should improve the quality in the squad.
“We have some very exciting players in the offense,” he said. “These players give us more creativity but the important thing is we need to score goals. This is something that we missed in our last games.”
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