Extra motivation for Azkals in AFC Challenge Cup

MANILA, Philippines — A major trophy and a chance to face the finest teams in the continent.

The Philippine Azkals now have extra motivation in their bid to nail the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May following the Asian Cup draw that placed the tournament winners in a grouping alongside the last two continental champions, Japan and Iraq.

This year’s Challenge Cup winner will also join another Middle East powerhouse, Jordan, in Group D, which is considered one of the toughest brackets in the prestigious tournament in Australia next year.

The Philippines hasn’t played in a tournament alongside elite company in recent years and manager Dan Palami hopes that prospect will fire up the Azkals to achieve their goal in Maldives.

But before even thinking about the Asian Cup, Palami knows winning the eight-nation Challenge Cup will already be a daunting task with the Azkals grouped with Afghanistan, Laos and Turkmenistan.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned to realize Philippine football’s dream of playing in the AFC Asian Cup,” he said.

“I’m all for it (making the Asian Cup),” said goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. “I want to go to Australia.”

Meanwhile, the Azkals have parted ways with assistant coaches Edwin Cabalida, Edzel Bracamonte and Rolando Pinero, following a Philippine Football Federation directive to have only AFC “A” licensed coaches work with the side.

The Azkals management team plans to fill the coaching void by tapping former national coach Aris Caslib to be the lead deputy to coach Thomas Dooley.

Philippines set for Nepal Friendly in Qatar

Azkals vs Nepal A Philippines media suggests Philippines National team is set for a friendly football arrangement against Nepal National team in Qatar where they will hold up a camp for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May.

Azkals manager Dan Palami said arrangements are being made to bring the team to Qatar to hold a weeklong session beginning April 8 and pick up match fitness in matches against Nepal and Qatari club Al-Ahli as reported in philstar.

Although we are yet to hear about the friendly match from All Nepal Football Association.

Philippines that currently ranks 127 in FIFA ranking played a friendly match against India back in November and ended 1-1 draw in the same venue four days before Nepal got 2-0 down to India.

Last time Nepal played Philippines was back in 2011 when Nepal faced a 4-0 defeat in Manila.


2 more Middle East camps for Azkals

Azkals news
DUBAI—Two more training camps in the Middle East are being lined up for the Philippine side preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May.

The Azkals, who were slated to face Azerbaijan in a friendly Wednesday night, are scheduled to hold camps in Qatar and Bahrain in the next two months before they plunge into action in the Maldives.

The Qatar camp starting April 8 will include matches against Nepal and Qatari club team Al-Ahli.

Azkals manager Dan Palami plans to hold the Bahrain camp from May 6 to 16 before they fly to the Maldives for the event that stakes a spot to the AFC Asian Cup next year. Palami is also hoping to have the Azkals together for a four-day training sessions in the Philippines.

The Azkals, handled by former United States skipper Thomas Dooley, open their Challenge Cup bid against Afghanistan on May 20, before facing Laos two days later.

Turkmenistan will be the Azkals’ last assignment on May 24 in Group B where the top two teams will advance to the semifinals.

source: sports.inquirer.net