IN PHOTOS: Azkals open training camp for Peace Cup
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Football Team concluded the first day of their training on Monday, August 18 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in preparation for the country’s bid to defend the Peace Cup title.
The four-nation tournament, which has been dominated by the Azkals since its initiation in 2012, replaced the now defunct Long Teng Cup previously organized by the Chinese Taipei Football Association.
The tournament, which was formerly named after Filipino-Spanish FC Barcelona legend Paulino Alcantara, will run from September 1-9.
This year, the annual invitational football meet that will be hosted by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will feature the national squads of Chinese Taipei, Myanmar and Palestine.
Vietnam was also invited to take part in the competition but chose to decline after falling into the same group as the Philippines in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup that will be held in November.
The national football team's conquest to defend home turf will kick-off on September 3 with a game against Chinese Taipei followed by a game against Myanmar on September 6, then a game against highly ranked Palestine on September 9.
National team head coach Thomas Dooley emphasized that the goal of the first training session is to gauge the fitness and skills of each player in the roster. Thirty-seven players were called to train but the roster will be trimmed to 24 for the tournament.
“It’s a normal first training session, you get to see the players moving a little bit to see where they are and how fit they are and have a little bit of fun in training,” he said.
Consequently, the Azkals have high hopes going into training as the team still holds the number one spot in the ASEAN region for the month of August and is rated 128 overall in the FIFA world rankings.
“We can be proud of it that we are number 1. And it’s just great. We would like to be among the first five in Asia but at the moment we are number one in Southeast Asia, it’s perfect. Like I said, we can be proud of this and it gives us a little bit of pressure when we play the Suzuki Cup but that’s what we want. We want to win the Suzuki Cup and we’ll do whatever we can to make that happens. And if you are listed as the best team in that group then you just have to show that you are the best,” Dooley stated.
The team will have regular training sessions at the RMFS for the rest of the week in preparation for the team’s crusade in the Peace Cup and in the Suzuki Cup.
Also, the team will have a tune-up game against United Football League champions Global FC on August 27 at the RMFS to further prepare them for the coming tournaments that they will be joining. The game will be free to the public.