Azkals set mini-camp for S'pore 'friendly'

The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 23 2012 04:53 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2012 07:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Although currently with their respective clubs, members of the Philippine Azkals based in Manila will regularly get together for a “mini-camp” and play tuneup matches against local clubs prior to their Nov. 15 international friendly with Singapore in Cebu.

“We’ll gather them in a mini-camp, for say, three days, probably house them in a hotel, so they can be together as a team and develop camaraderie,” Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said.

“The plan also calls for them to play against local teams, against UFL teams, in preparation for Nov. 15 in Cebu,” Araneta added.

The friendly with the Lions – actually a second engagement this year following their initial meeting last Sept. 7 in Singapore that saw a monumental 2-0 triumph for the Azkals – serves as Phl XIs’ send-off home game before plunging into action in next month’s AFF Suzuki Cup in Thailand.

The Azkals came off a productive 10-day training camp in the Middle East, battling higher-ranked Bahrain to a scoreless draw and yielding a fighting 1-2 setback to fancied Kuwait before breaking up to rejoin their respective clubs.

Meanwhile, Phl will host the AFC Women’s U-16 Championship Qualification Round 1 from Nov. 7-11 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The national sides of powerhouse nations Australia, Thailand and Myanmar will come over to play, along with host Philippines, in the Group C of the qualifiers to the 2013 Asian U-16 tilt.

“These are strong teams but I think it will be their U-14 teams. And I think before, our team beat Austria and drew with Thailand before in the U-14 in AFC so we’ll give them a good fight,” said Araneta.

Phl just hosted the Qualification Round 1 for the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship at Rizal, which was topped by Myanmar with Chinese Taipei beating the hosts for the runner-up honors and the second and last berth to the next stage.

“It was a successful hosting, even if we did not qualify to the second round. We just need more exposure for the team because some of the players were released late by their schools, due to exams. We can see that they gave it their all, we gave Chinese Taipei and Myanmar a good fight, it’s just that they lacked match fitness, having limited time to practice together,” Araneta said.

Phl U-19 started the tourney with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong but dropped a 0-4 loss to Myanmar. Needing no less than a win against the Taiwanese to advance, the Pinays suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the last day to bow out for good. – Olmin Leyba