Azkals kick off season vs Myanmar XI

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 17 2013 03:09 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2013 11:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals will meet a familiar regional rival – Myanmar – in their first international appearance for 2013. The friendly will be held on Feb. 6 in Yangon.

“We were invited by Myanmar to play in Yangon and we’ve accepted it,” Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta told The STAR yesterday.

The date has been designated “friendly match day” by the International Football Federation (Fifa). During such days, clubs tend to release players to their national teams, making possible the availability of Azkals pros based in Europe.

“This match will serve as part of preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup for both the Azkals and the Myanmar team,” Araneta said.

The Pinoy booters are slated to host Group E of the Challenge Cup qualifiers on March 22-26 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium while the White Angels are staging Group A on March 2-6 in Yangon.

The Azkals and the White Angels go at it again some two months after squaring off in the group stages of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup in Bangkok.

Phl XI won that Group A matchup, 2-0, on goals by Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado, sealing the Azkals’ entry into their semifinals for the second straight tourney.

That victory over the Burmese was also the first for the Pinoys since 1995. Phl had previously fallen to Myanmar six times, although the Pinoys had managed to score a pair of scoreless draws and a 1-1 standoff in their last three encounters prior to the 2012 Suzuki Cup.

Meanwhile, PFF officials said the federation and coach Michael Weiss are still negotiating for a new contract. The PFF had offered Weiss, whose two-year contract expires this month, an extension of six months.