Azkals leaving for AFC Challenge Cup Friday
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Azkals are leaving no stone unturned in their preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup.
Bracing for a tough test, the Azkals will leave for Kathmandu on Friday— five days earlier than scheduled—to get used to the weather conditions in the Nepalese capital.
Kathmandu sits at 4,600 feet with temperatures ranging from 7 to 24 degrees during this time of the year, and coach Michael Weiss said the early arrival will give his players time to adjust to playing at high altitude.
“It (early arrival) will help us,” Weiss said. “We could make up for the lack of training time we had before.”
Weiss said the Azkals will hold seven to eight training sessions in Kathmandu, before kicking off their campaign on March 9 against powerhouse North Korea at the Halchowk Stadium.
There is still a cloud of uncertainty over the availability of key players like Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara, but Weiss said he has “a very interesting and highly spirited group.”
Also uncertain is Chieffy Caligdong who is still nursing an injured knee.
Weiss said Caligdong’s fitness will “be a tight race against clock.” The German coach remains hopeful, though, that the co-captain will regain his fitness in time for the first match in Nepal.