MANILA, Philippines - Train like Manny Pacquiao.
Taking a page from Pacquiao’s mantra “if you train hard, the fight will be easy,” the Philippine Azkals have virtually set a spartan-like training camp in Duren, Germany as they gear up for the Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers against Sri Lanka.
“We want them to train like Manny Pacquiao,” team manager Dan Palami said on the eve of the Azkals’ flight to Germany, where they will set camp for the next two weeks in preparation for their June 29 (first leg) and July 3 (second leg) duel with Sri Lanka.
“We want their training to be almost five or 10 times harder than the actual game so that when they get into the game, they won’t lose stamina and endurance. Our target is to whip them into top condition, get them actually ready to play three games straight,” Palami added.
After working mostly on physical fitness in Manila for one month, the Azkals will leave for Dubai at 12:20 a.m. today and take a connecting flight to Frankfurt before motoring to Duren town.
During camp, they will play a Duren team composed of fourth and fifth division players, the Under-19 squad from Bern, second Bundesliga team FC Ingolstadt, and newly promoted German third division club Darmstadt Achtung 98.
Unlike in the Philippines where commitments besiege popular players like Phil and James Younghusband and screaming girls follow their every move, the Azkals will be put on a tighter leash in Duren.
“I’m looking forward to having the guys in camp. They can’t make strange stuff outside the pitch and can fully concentrate. You know, there’s so many temptations in a big city like Manila,” said coach Michael Weiss last week before he left for Germany ahead of the team.
“We’ll not put them in prison but we’ll have control over them, so that will help. They can focus on what they’re supposed to do and look seriously at the match. Sri Lanka is hopefully a step in the next higher stage, and that would mean Kuwait (in the second round of the WC qualifiers),” he added.
The 23-man team will also be a full complement in Germany, with foreign-based players Stephan Schrock, Manny Ott, Rob Gier, Ray Jonnson, Dennis Cagara, Angel Guirado and Jerry Lucena expected to join the pool that trained in Manila, including veterans Aly Borromeo, Chieffy Caligdong and Neil Etheridge and new faces Nate Burkey, Misagh Bahadoran and Paul Mulders.
“Finally, we can get the whole team complete. In Manila, it’s hard to practice when people have commitments left and right and you don’t know the condition of the team. We didn’t even have enough players to play 11-a-side so we’re not able to practice any practical drills, stuff like that,” said Borromeo.
The Azkals will be in Germany until June 25, after which they will get back to Dubai for a flight to Colombo.