Under-23 Azkals return to action vs Laos
JAKARTA—The out-of-it-all Under-23 Azkals return to the pitch Friday to try and salvage some measure of pride while the other Filipino athletes competing here and in West Java begin their campaign in the 26th Southeast Asian Games.
Saddled with two losses, the Filipinos gun for a breakthrough win against Laos at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in Manila) with coach Michael Weiss expected to field more homegrown players this time.
As in their match against the Timor Leste on Monday, the Azkals are tipped as the favorites against the Laotians, who took a 2-3 loss from Myanmar Thursday last week before drawing with Brunei, 2-2.
The Azkals bowed to Vietnam, 3-1, in their first game then absorbed a 2-1 loss to the Timorese in a match where Weiss later said some of the Fil-foreign players behaved like “stars.”
Next up for the Filipinos is Brunei.
While taekwondo holds its technical meeting Friday, action in Bekasi, West Java, a progressive city about three hours from this Indonesian capital, will also get going with Jay Adalem, who heads the PH secretariat there, predicting a haul of 12 to 15 gold medals.
Canoe/kayak, cycling, equestrian, fencing, golf, paragliding, rowing and traditional boat—also known as dragon boat—are the top medal prospects there.
The golf campaign will be bannered by the seasoned Chihiro Ikeda in the ladies’ division and Rupert Zaragosa in the men’s side.
After failing to compete in the 2009 event in Laos because of the strife in the association, Philippine cycling is back in the Games and looks very formidable.
Bannered by veteran Lloyd Lucien Reynante and Mark Galedo, the 2009 Tour champ, the Filipinos are installed as one of the fancied bets in the road competitions to be flagged off Sunday.
Fencing is another event where the Philippines expects to strike heavily, even as Adalem refuses to talk about the chances of Filipinos in paragliding, a first-timer in the Games, with the country still new to the sport.
Taekwondo will be bannered by at least three defending champions in Samuel Morrison, Marlon Avenido and Alexander Briones and the charming former world poomsae champion trio of Rani Ortega, Camille Alarilla and Janice Lagman.
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