Friday, February 10, 2012

Philippine Azkals battle Uzbekistan XI

source: Cedelf P. Tupas | Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals face what could be the toughest test of their Middle East camp Saturday when they battle Uzbekistan’s Olympic side at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.

Bolstered by the arrival of several Europe-based players, the Azkals will work on cohesion in the first test match of the training camp for the AFC Challenge Cup next month.

The Azkals take the field at 7 p.m. (11 p.m. in Manila) against the Uzbeks, who are coming off a 2-0 victory over Australia in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami, who left for Dubai Thursday night.

“This is the start of the serious process of preparation for the Challenge Cup. The tougher the matches, the better we would be in Nepal.”

Already without injured skipper Aly Borromeo, the Azkals suffered another blow with Chieffy Caligdong also missing the match. Caligdong, who suffered a knee injury in a United Football League match two weeks ago, is also with the team in Dubai, but has been reduced to undergoing therapy for his injury.

“I’m joining the team in exercises but it’s sad,” Caligdong was quoted as saying during their arrival press conference. “It’s my first time to go abroad and not be playing for the team.”