MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Azkals were noticeably bigger and faster at their recent practice in Manila.
This, following two weeks of intensive training in Chicago, Illinois.
"We're a little bit stronger because of the training camp in Chicago. It was also a good experience, the group is now more compact," said Carli de Murga.
"Being in a different environment and seeing how the Americans play football was good. What we're able to do is gain a little strength and hopefully we can use that with the friendlies coming up, especially the Suzuki Cup," said Jason Sabio.
The team brought back two new recruits from the United States, Fil-Panamanian Demetrious Omphroy and Fil-Am Matthew Uy.
"These are the kind of players na makakaimpluwesya sa mga local players natin," said Dan Palami, Azkals team manager.
And in even more good news, two Fil-Europeans, Dennis Wolf and Jason de Jong will now be based in Manila.
"It's hard to travel around the whole time for training. So I decided to come here and I think it's more comfortable," said Wolf.
"We have a tight schedule now for the Suzuki Cup. If I'm based in Europe, I wouldn't be able to join the team like now," said De Jong.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss is confident after the team's good showing at the Challenge Cup in Nepal, they will give an even better effort in upcoming games against Cambodia, Laos and Singapore in September at the Paulino Alcantara Cup in October and the Suzuki Cup in November.
Football for a cause
Meantime, brothers James and Phil Younghusband had an action packed showdown at a recent football for a cause.
Team Phil dictated the first half, scoring three unanswered goals.
Team James finally got on the scoreboard in the second half.
But in the end, it was Team Phil that prevailed, 5-1.
Proceeds from the game will go to the Don Bosco Foundation for the care and education of street children.