Azkals upbeat: ‘Kuwait won’t leave the pitch unscathed’ | Inquirer Sports

Azkals upbeat: ‘Kuwait won’t leave the pitch unscathed’

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 10:49 PM July 20, 2011

KUWAIT CITY—The odds may be stacked against the Philippine Azkals in their second round World Cup Qualifying duel with Kuwait, but that doesn’t mean they’ll just sit back and allow “the best team in the Gulf region” to impose its will on them.

Kuwait, the reigning Gulf Cup of Nations champion, is heavily favored, but the Filipinos, in the second round of qualifying for the first time in history, vowed to put up a resolute stand in their home-and-away tie starting on Saturday at the Mohammed Al-Hammad Stadium in Hawalli.


Flying in from Manama where they lost a couple of test matches against the Bahrain Under-23 Olympic Team, the Azkals arrived in this oil-rich, bustling city Tuesday night to a warm welcome by the Filipino community here.


As soon as they stepped outdoors, though, they were given a reminder that it won’t just be Kuwait that they would have to deal with.

July is the second hottest month of the year here with temperatures during the day hovering at 45 to 50 degrees and 38 to 43 degrees during nighttime. Azkals coach Michael Weiss is hoping that his charges will immediately adjust to the sauna-like conditions.

“It looks like the consensus is they’ll win by at least four goals,” team manager Dan Palami said. “We look at this as a challenge.”

“Even if we were coming in as underdogs, we will make sure they don’t leave the pitch unscathed,” added Palami.

The Azkals’ got another reprieve also yesterday when the Asian Football Confederation endorsed their appeal to cancel the ban on Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schrock to the International Football Federation (Fifa).

Fifa had earlier told the Philippine Football Federation to seek the cancellation of the ban from the AFC, before acting on the appeal.


With the AFC rescinding the ban, it will now be up to Fifa to apply the rule stating that “the Fifa Disciplinary may cancel cautions that have not resulted in expulsions to restore balance among teams that have not played the same number of matches during the first round of competitions.”

Kuwait was seeded outright in the second round, while the Philippines needed to beat Sri Lanka to make the next stage.

On their first full day here, the Azkals watched a video of the match pitting Kuwait and China in this year’s Asian Cup last January with Weiss breaking down the tactics and style of their opponents.

They were scheduled to train at 7 p.m. to get accustomed to the nighttime kick off on Saturday.

“They have a good mix of young and experienced players and play patiently,” Weiss told his team. “We have to obstruct them, make the spaces really tight for them.”

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Weiss is wary of the attacking quartet of winger Fahad Al-Enezi, Waleed Ali, Yousef Naser and Bader Al Mutwa, who has already scored more than 30 goals and 100 appearances for the national side.

TAGS: 2014 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers, AFC, Aly Borromeo, Azkals, Bahrain, Dan Palami, Fifa, Hans Michael Weiss, Kuwait, PFF, Philippines, Sports, Stephan Schrock

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