MANILA, Philippines – Former national team captain Aly Borromeo was delighted to be back in training with the Azkals last week after having spent more than two years on the injured list/
Borromeo is hoping to once again wear the national team colors.
The football star suffered an ACL injury in October 2011, a month after his last appearance for the Azkals – a 4-0 win against Nepal.
He attended the Azkals’ training session last Friday at the Emperador Stadium, where he met some of the younger members of the national team pool as well as new head coach Thomas Dooley.
“My last game with the Azkals was back in September 2011, so yeah, it’s been quite a long time,” Borromeo told ABS-CBNnews.com. “I’m not rushing it. I’m still just training with the guys, just being out there and getting involved a little bit with the drills and the coaching staff.”
Borromeo said he was already cleared medically but is still taking things slowly.
“Dahan-dahan pa lang,” he said. “I’m just getting the confidence back. I want to make sure that everything’s a hundred percent this time around.”
Although he has been out of action for quite some time, Borromeo is still hoping to work his way back into the national team line-up.
“It’s more of a challenge, and I love challenges,” he said. “It’s gonna make me work harder, make me a better player in the end, no matter what the outcome is.”
The presence of young players in the 34-man training pool has also lit a fire not only in Borromeo but even in some of the other national team mainstays.
“Just being involved in the first training session, you can see the young guys working hard and trying to impress the coach,” he related. “That reminds us, the seniors, from back in the day when we first started around 10 years ago.”
“So okay, that pushes us also, pushes us harder,” he said.
Borromeo also praised Dooley, who replaced Michael Weiss as the Azkals’ coach, and said that the team had little trouble adjusting to his style.
“Our first training session, right away he emphasized the tactics and what he wanted to do, from the defense to the offense,” Borromeo said. “So alam niya talaga ‘yung strengths and weaknesses ng team.”
Borromeo noted that with Dooley in charge, it’s a “clean slate” for all of the players.
“Everyone has to vie for their positions,” he said. “Dati, when you have a coach for a long time, he has his favorites. Comfortable na eh, you’re comfortable at that level.”
“So at least now, it’s a clean slate for everyone, that’s the good thing. Definitely, there’s a healthy competition, and that’s the beauty about it. The core players are still there, but there’s still gonna be competition in the end,” he added.
The Azkals are training for the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives in May, where they have been drawn with Turkmenistan, Laos and Afghanistan.
“It all comes down to experience in the end,” said Borromeo of the Challenge Cup. “Even though we’re favorites, and though we beat Turkmenistan the last time, it doesn’t mean a thing. Right now, we have to concentrate on getting the actual team together and the system for the Challenge Cup.”