Local-based Philippine Azkals are expected to arrive in Kuwait on March 20, 2023 to join the other players coming from different leagues in Europe and in Southeast Asia for the friendly against Kuwait on the 24th.
At least 25 to 26 players were invited to join the squad that will also face Jordan in Doha, Qatar on March 28. The team is expected to arrive in Doha on the 25th and will have at least two days to train for the tune-up against Jordan. The official announcement will come, naturally, from the Philippine Football Federation, but Azkals’ management has been in contact with players for the last two weeks regarding their availability.
Former Azkals’ captain and Pinoy football icon Stephan Schrock will join the team as part of the coaching staff. While he can’t mention yet who were invited, he said they are hoping to assemble a team strong enough to give the Al-Azraq and The Chivalrous Ones a good fight.
There were at least 22 names on the initial list, but according to Schrock there will be some last-minute changes.
“Some of them were injured, others are negotiating contract extensions with their clubs and others are fighting relegation in their leagues. We have to wait until this week to know the status of the last five names on the list. Offhand, it’s a good mix of veteran Azkals and young ones,” Schrock said.
Schrock added they prepared for a bigger pool knowing that injuries and availability are always big concerns.
“But definitely I can tell you that we invited Neil (Etheridge) and he greenlighted so far. We are hoping that he will be injury-free and nothing unfortunate will happen,” Schrock revealed.
Three more names were added to the list, who are considered mainstays in the team. Details are being finalized if they can join the squad. As of now, three big names are officially out of the squad.
“The guys we are targeting are recovering from their injuries. There is no secret that Gerrit (Holtman) had a surgery on his knee a few weeks back. (Jens) Rasmussen is resting and recovering from a hamstring injury, while Rapahel Obermair is tied with his club so he has to pass on the friendlies, unfortunately. On the bright side, these developments have given others the opportunity to step up for the national team,” Schrock explained. “We always strive to assemble the best possible squad.”
More often than not, the Azkals always had to struggle even before stepping on the pitch against opponents whether in official tournaments or tune-up games. Calling and eventually bringing the best Azkals together, among other things, will always be a challenge. This is just the initial, but crucial stage in the team’s preparations. In an ideal set-up, this shouldn’t be the case.
The team tried to form its core with young and local-based Azkals in its last tournament, but results were wanting. The games against Kuwait and Jordan are just tune-ups; the results, however, will matter most to the Azkals, to their fans and to their relevance in the country’s football consciousness now being dominated by their female counterparts. Here’s hoping that they will make good in the Middle East.
Some good news in Montalban. At least two titles will be at stake in the forthcoming “Bakbakan sa Montalban” on April 29, 2023 at the Montalban Sports Center in San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal.
Organized by good friend and schoolmate Bong Corpuz in cooperation with the local government of Rodriguez and sanctioned by the Games and Amusement Board, the slugfest is among the featured events for the week-long celebration of 152nd anniversary of “Araw ng Montalban.” Romel “Smooth Operator” Oliveros of the fabled Bebot Elorde stable will go up against Davao del Sur’s Jestine “Golden Punch” Tesoro for the vacant Philippine Boxing Federation (PBF) featherweight title in the co-main event.
Ricardo “Smiley” Sueno, on the other hand, will tangle against Reymark “Lucky Boy” Alicaba for the vacant PBF flyweight title in the other title match.
“Aside from supporting local boxing and to give our upcoming boxers a venue to showcase our talents, we also want to promote fitness and sports in our advocacy Iwas Droga. Hopefully, this event will spur more boxing promotions in the country in the coming months,” Corpuz said.
Seven other preliminary bouts complete the nine fight card. Admission to “Bakbakan sa Montalban” is free.
“There is more to Montalban other than quarrying. Our town is a good place to promote tourism and create more investment opportunities,” Corpuz added.
Speaking of events, please visit the biggest automotive event of the year in Region 4A. Dubbed as Accelebrate CALABARZON Motor Show 2023, it opens today until Sunday, March 12 at the Activity Park, Atrium and Parking of the Ayala Malls-Solenad Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
For those who want to compete and at the same time visit the sights, sounds and taste of Ilocandia, the 9th TINMAN Triathlon is set to unfold on March 18 and 19 in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. For more details, please send your queries to [email protected].
Please don’t forget to watch and tune in this Sunday, February 12, 2023 from 2 to 3 p.m. for another interesting discussion at 3PTS–Pambansang Tambayan ng Sports over DZME 1530 khz. Dylan Valmores and March Alexander Lim, gold and bronze medalists in the recent 7th Asian Jiu Jitsu held in Bangkok, Thailand will join us on the show. Rhayan Cruz, President of LGR Hoops will also be featured in the episode.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at erel_ca[email protected] or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat