Beckham, Galaxy test Azkals Dec. 3 | Inquirer Sports

Beckham, Galaxy test Azkals Dec. 3

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 10:52 PM October 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—In A year replete of milestones, chalk one more for Philippine football.

The Los Angeles Galaxy, a high-profile Major League Soccer team bannered by one of the biggest names in the sport—David Beckham—is coming over to Manila to battle the Philippine Azkals in an exhibition match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 with Beckham, United States captain Landon Donovan, Ireland international striker Robbie Keane and Brazilian midfielder Juninho all suiting up for the Galaxy against the country’s own stars led by Chieffy Caligdong and Phil and James Younghusband.


LA Galaxy president Thomas Payne and event promoter Jinx Macabenta jointly announced the staging of the match Thursday during a press conference at the Makati Shangri-la, where they were joined by Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta and Azkals manager Dan Palami.


“The Philippines has shown a lot of passion for the sport and we see the country as a growing football market,” said Payne. “This (match) can only be good for the sport here.”

Payne added: “We understand what this is about. We understand that we have popular players and they will be on Tour.”

The Galaxy, who are arriving on Dec. 1, will also hold a clinic for select children of Bantay Bata 163 at 2 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

“We’re not just coming into the market and leave immediately,” said Payne.

“What’s important to us is we give back and that’s what the clinic is all about. David Beckham is probably one of the most famous athletes who handles children really well.”

Araneta hailed the Galaxy’s visit, which marks the first time a high-profile team will play in the country since Brazilian first division squad Cruzeiro, bannered by legends Tostao and Revillinho, came to play at Rizal Memorial in the 1970s.


“Of course it is a big match to end the year playing the LA Galaxy,” said Araneta, whose organization will be providing logistical, manpower and technical support for the staging of the match.

“What more can you ask for for Philippine football.”

Palami said he has gotten in touch with the country’s Europe-based players to check their availability, but so far, only Iceland-based defender Ray Jonsson has confirmed his stint for the match.

The Azkals, who will miss skipper Aly Borromeo because of injury, are also recalling Paul Mulders, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Rob Gier and Stephan Schrock to play against the Galaxy.

The date of the match, however, does not fall on a Fifa international date, which meant teams are not inclined to release the players for the game.

Nevertheless, Palami expressed delight at the prospect of playing the Galaxy, considering that exactly a year ago, the Azkals were toiling in Laos just to make the Suzuki Cup main tournament.

The date of the match itself falls on the same week last year when the Azkals stunned Vietnam, 2-0, and sparked their resurgence.

“It’s an early Christmas bonus to have a chance to play a team with the profile of LA Galaxy,” said Palami. “It’s a great opportunity for the Azkals and Philippine football in general as it is in its growing stage. We will take blessings as they come.”

Macabenta, a marketing executive based in Daly City, California, said they have been planning the match the past five months and have been in constant contact with Galaxy officials.

“This is a historic event and we’re just happy to help make it happen,” said Macabenta.

He said the ticket details for the match will be released on the first week of November.

Payne expressed satisfaction at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, which he described as “wonderful.”

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“It was wonderful, more than we expected. The stadium is great, its a smaller venue which would make fans closer to the players,” said Payne.

TAGS: Azkals, Football, LA Galaxy, Philippines, Sports

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