Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Azkals relish rare meeting with LA Galaxy, David Beckham

source: Cedelf P. Tupas | Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals is relishing a once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing against the Los Angeles Galaxy, a team that features one of football’s biggest names—David Beckham.

“This is another great benchmark for Philippine football,” said Azkals striker Phil Younghusband of the Galaxy-Azkals match at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Chieffy Caligdong, undisputably the team’s finest homegrown player, is also very keen on playing against the Galaxy, who recently bagged the Major League Soccer Cup.

“We can’t wait for the game,” Caligdong said in Filipino. “It’s a rare chance for us. We have to show them what Filipinos are capable of in football, not just on the pitch but also the appreciation of the fans.”

Having grown up in England, Younghusband said he’s been aware of Beckham’s exploits and counts him as one of his idols.

“David Beckham is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a professional player; he’s the player who, since I was seven, I wanted to emulate,” said the Loyola Meralco striker, who spent time with London-based club Chelsea.

Younghusband was candid enough to admit that, as a nine-year-old, he wrote Beckham a letter expressing his admiration for his idol.

“I’m sure it (letter) never got to him. But I was able to meet him (Beckham) when I was 10, when Chelsea played Manchester United, where I was a ball boy,” Younghusband said.

Younghusband is also no stranger to some of the players in the Galaxy team, having trained with the team, including star midfielder Landon Donovan, for a possible transfer from Chelsea a few years ago.

The Galaxy, who also have Irish international Robbie Keane, Trinidad and Tobago standout Chris Birchall and Brazilian
midfielder Juninho in their lineup, are scheduled to arrive in Manila on Thursday.

They have scheduled a clinic for children on Friday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Meanwhile, Smart Communications yesterday announced its partnership with match promoters through online ticket promotions.

“This is good for Philippine football,” said Smart Sports’ Pato Gregorio. “This has been a big year for Philippine sports with NBA stars coming over early this year, and now, we have the Galaxy and David Beckham.”

Gregorio said that Smart is giving away premium tickets through its website www.smart.com.ph/dreamcup and Twitter account @smartcorporate.