MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Philippine Azkals promised their fans they won’t play in awe against football superstar David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“Papakitaan namin sila ng magandang laban sa Saturday,” said Azkals co-team captain Chieffy Caligdong.
The Azkals and the Galaxy are scheduled to face off in a friendly game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
They held a press conference at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel on Thursday.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss said his wards will do everything they can to upset the 2011 Major League Soccer (MLS) champions.
“We always try to do our best. We're going to do the same thing day after tomorrow,” said Weiss.
Co-team captain Aly Borromeo said he is sad that he will be sitting out the game due to a knee injury.
He said it would have been a thrilling experience to play against his idols.
“It's heartbreaking not to be out on the pitch with my team. I grew up watching the Galaxy in college in the US,” said Borromeo.
Phil Younghusband said they won't be nervous against the Galaxy.
He said the game itself will keep them busy from being awed.
"When you're in the game, your concentrating on the ball and the players around you. During the game, I don't think any of us will be awed," said the Filipino-British striker.
‘We play to win’
Beckham, meanwhile, thanked the Filipinos for giving him and his team a warm welcome.
“Thank you for the welcome. Thank you for the kindness so far. We hope you enjoy the game,” he said.
Beckham said they are coming off a difficult game in Indonesia. He added that he expects the same challenge in the Philippines.
“We play every game to win. Every team we play against want to beat us. We always go into the game wanting to win,” said the British football icon.
His team mate, Donovan, said he’s aware of the Philippine Azkals.
He said he learned of the Azkals’ exploits through a member of their staff.
“I learned about the Azkals very, very quickly,” said Donovan. “One of the members of our staff back home is from here, she's a very lovely lady.”
For the good of PH football
Azkals team manager Dan Palami said he has no qualms about pitting his team against the MLS champions.
He said it is a rare opportunity that can boost Philippine football.
“This game is for the promotion of the sport. We had no apprehensions taking the match,” said Palami.
He said he immediately said yes upon hearing the offer to have the Azkals play against the Galaxy.
“I think it's important that high-profile teams like LA Galaxy are able to come over,” said Palami.
Promoter Jinx Macabenta said ticket sales for the game went up after they were sold at discounted prices.
He is thankful that they were able to get sponsors that helped slash down the ticket prices.
“Ticket sales spiked since Monday. We're expecting about 80% capacity on Saturday,” said Macabenta.