Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Middle East Training for the Azkals Underway

The 2012 AFC Challenge Cup is a month away, and in line with the preparation for that particular competition, the Philippine Football Federation has arranged for a training camp / tour for the senior national team in the Middle East. It is hoped that the location will facilitate chemistry between those based in the Philippines with their overseas-based counterparts, with the competition getting closer and closer. It is an opportunity as well to provide goodwill for the large Filipino community based in the Gulf region.

Based in Dubai and Doha, the training will span from the 7th to the 17th and will include three friendlies, two against international sides and one against a top quality Qatari side. The first friendly will be against the Uzbekistan Olympic Team at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on February 11 (8pm local time, 12mn in Manila). The Uzbek side shares the group lead with the United Arab Emirates in their quest to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics with two group matches remaining. They will then proceed to Doha for their match against Qatari side Al-Ahly on February 13 (730pm local time, 1230am on February 14 in Manila) before returning to Dubai to face the Australian Olympic Team at the Al-Maktoum Stadium on February 16 (8pm local time, 12mn in Manila). The Olyroos are actually in the same group with Uzbekistan in Olympic Qualifying, but they are a distant third and their chances to advance are slim with two matches remaining and they have a five-point deficit against the leaders.

ABS-CBN Sports as part of their commitment with the PFF, will be broadcasting the matches of the senior national team. They have confirmed that there will be a live broadcast of the international friendlies on the 11th and 16th, whilst the Al-Ahly friendly is still being worked on. The Dubai friendlies will have a pregame that will start at 1130pm and will be shown on Studio 23, with the replays to take place the following morning at 11am.

Here are the players who are to participate in the Middle East camp:

Philippine Air Force Phoenix FC: Ian Araneta (FW), Emelio Caligdong (MF)  
Philippine Army Fritz & Macziol: Roel Gener (D / MF), Eduard Sacapano (GK), Nestorio Margarse (MF)  
Global FC: Rob Gier (D), Carlie de Murga (D), Angel Guirado (MF / FW), Juan Luis Guirado (D), Misagh Bahadoran (MF), Paolo Pascual (GK)  
Kaya FC: Joshua Beloya (FW), Lexton Moy (MF), Jason Sabio (D)  
Loyola Meralco Sparks FC: Phil Younghusband (FW), James Younghuband (MF)  
Stallion FC: Ruben Doctora (MF / FW)  
Laos FC: Marwin Angeles (MF)  
Grindavik: Ray Jonsson (D)  (arriving on the 12th)

1. FC Magdeburg: Denis Wolf (MF / FW)  
FC Dordecht '90: Jason de Jong (MF) (arriving on the 8th)  
MSV Duisburg: Roland Müller (GK) (arriving on the 10th)  
Fulham: Neil Etheridge (GK)  (arriving on the 14th)

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