BAHRAIN – After a week of training in Bahrain, the Philippine national men's football team is in high spirits as it heads to the Indian Ocean island nation of Maldives for its campaign in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
The Philippine Azkals used their training in Bahrain to acclimatize to the weather condition in Maldives, where they will play their group matches.
"It has been a very good training for us here in Bahrain" Azkals manager Dan Palami said before their departure to Maldives. "I think the temperature, the weather, as well as the humidity is the same in Maldives, so this one week training camp has been very good for us."
More than 20 players joined the Bahrain training camp, including first-choice goal-keeper Neil Etheridge, who has declared the team "perfectly prepared" for the competition.
"We've got the team together. We've been in the hotel and out on the training field," said Etheridge.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley is optimistic about the team’s chances after their training camp.
"The training was great. We have to work a lot in the last week, and the players are a little bit tired," he said. "Now we have three days, and we can recover."
According to Palami, some groups have touted the Azkals as the favorite, while others still believe that they might come in as third in their group.
"We are ready for the challenge," he promised.
The Azkals will play their first game on May 21 against Afghanistan, and then Laos on May 22, with their last match against Turkmenistan on May 24.
During their stay in Bahrain, the Azkals had a tune-up match against the Muharraq Club football team at the Bahrain National Stadium, losing 1-2.
The Azkals arrived in Maldives on Sunday.