MANILA, Philippines - Europe-based Azkals Ray Jonsson and Rob Gier arrived in Manila late Wednesday night for their friendly against the MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy on December 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Both Jonsson and Gier are excited to play the Galaxy, especially Gier who grew up in England like Galaxy superstar David Beckham.
"It's just an unbelievable opportunity," Gier said. "If you told me a few months ago that we would be playing against David Beckham here in Manila, I would've laughed at you."
"It's an amazing thing for football in the Philippines. I can't wait to get out there and play," Gier added.
Jonsson said that Azkals will be aiming for the win, even though they will be the underdog against the best football team in the United States.
"There's always a chance, if we play good defense," Jonsson said.
Gier added that the friendly game against the Galaxy shows that the Philippines is now being recognized for its improvements in football.
"All of a sudden, people like the Galaxy want to come and play an exhibition game over here. So it's good for us, it's good for them, everyone wins in the situation," he said.
The Azkals will be playing without other Europe-based players, including goal keepers Neil Etheridge and Roland Muller and midfielder Stephan Schrock, who all have commitments with their clubs.
Homegrown stars Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta, along with Phil and James Younghusband, are expected to lead the Azkals in the game.
Beckham and the rest of the LA Galaxy are expected to arrive in Manila Thursday afternoon.
In the first stop of their 2011 Asia Pacific Tour, the LA Galaxy defeated a selection from the Indonesian national team, 1-0.
After playing against the Azkals, they are set to fly to Australia to face the Melbourne Victory in the last stop of their tour. -- From a report by Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News