SHAH ALAM, Malaysia—A 15-day training camp in the United States in August highlighted by two international friendlies and a match against Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire is close to being finalized for the Philippine Azkals.
Azkals manager Dan Palami Thursday night said the proposed camp, which will run from Aug. 10 to 25, forms part of the team’s preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup late this year in Thailand and Malaysia.
Palami is looking at the US Virgin Islands as a possible opponent for the Azkals on Aug. 15, before a duel with the Fire five days later. Another international friendly is slated Aug. 20.
A group of Chicago-based Filipinos from Palami’s hometown of Tacloban City is making representations with the Chicago Fire and arranging the matches for the Azkals.
“It will be a good experience for the team,” said Palami. “We’ll make sure that we get the best possible preparation for the Suzuki Cup.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Azkals skipper Chieffy Caligdong sees no problem in the growing number of Filipino players raised abroad getting picked for national team duty, even if it meant that homegrown players can no longer hold down a place in the lineup.
“I don’t see it as a negative thing,” said Caligdong, proud son of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, who is one of only four homegrown players in the lineup. “What’s important is the level of football (in the team) is getting higher.”
The squad for the Malaysia match, which included Ian Araneta, Ed Sacapano and OJ Clariño, was probably one of the fewest with homegrown talent as coach Michael Weiss was able to bring in the likes of Europe-based Stephan Schrock, Paul Mulders, Manny Ott, Roland Muller and Denis Wolf.
Omitted for the first time since the 2010 Suzuki Cup were veteran Army players Roel Gener and Nestorio Margarse.
“It’s a challenge for our local players. They have to show up and prove they deserve the spot,” said Caligdong.