Azkals face toughest foe yet in Kuwait

by TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2011 11:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2011 01:05 AM

Members of Team Philippines Azkals gather around their German coach Michael Weiss during a practice session before the game with Kuwait Saturday. Photo by Val Cuenca for abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Azkals have gone through rigorous training to prepare for their tough 2-leg match-up versus Kuwait.

If the FIFA world rankings are to be of any credible basis, Kuwait is way ahead of the Philippines

The Kuwaiti team has worked hard to earn its ranking, winning numerous titles, and even qualifying for the main tournament of the World Cup in 1982.

They won the 2010 Gulf Cup of Nations and the 2010 West Asian Football Federation.

According to a sports analyst, Kuwait is hands-down going to be the strongest team the Azkals has ever faced.

"'Yung koponan ng Kuwait ang pinakamabigat koponan na makakalaban ng Azkals mula sa kontinente ng Asia sa loob siguro ng 2 o 3 taon na. Itong mga manlalarong ito, hasang hasa na, marunong sila. ‘Yung pang-araw araw na laro ginagawa nila, nagagampanan nila," said analyst Christian Soler.

Kuwait is known to be a tough and physical team as well and they literally will not back down from a fight.

Proof of this is the result of a recent friendly versus Lebanon.

Kuwait handily won the match but it turned out into a bench-clearing brawl in the end.

According to another sports analyst, the 2 tune-up games versus Bahrain should serve as a warning of how strong Kuwait is.

“Parehas ang istilo nila, aggressive attacking forward line. That's the key, speed and attacking forward line. Kuwait has that, Bahrain has that,” said sports commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz.

The weather in the Middle East will also come into play as this is clearly the hottest climate the Azkals have ever played in as well.

ABS-CBN Sports will air the 1st leg of the Azkals versus Kuwait live on Channel 2 at 11:30pm, Saturday (July 23) with a replay the next morning at 7 a.m. on Sunday (July 24).