Philippine football

Azkals close out September international window against Afghanistan

Juro Morilla

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Azkals close out September international window against Afghanistan

GETTING READY. Philippine Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss and forward Sebastian Rasmussen in a press conference


The Philippine Azkals ramp up their preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 joint qualifiers with a friendly versus Afghanistan

MANILA, Philippines – Following a 1-1 draw against Chinese Taipei, the Philippine Azkals aim to finish the September FIFA International Match Window on a winning note as they welcome Afghanistan at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, September 12, at 7 pm.

“We’re happy to be back. I think we come back from a very good game considering the circumstances over there,” said Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss as he talked about the “terrible condition” that they endured on the pitch in Chinese Taipei the previous week.

But Weiss gave assurances that the Azkals are in top shape heading into the Afghanistan friendly. “All players are in good condition, no injuries, the players with jetlag now are fully fit,” he said.

Azkals youngster Sebastian Rasmussen echoed the sentiments of his coach and shared that the chemistry within the team is “very good.”

“We are able to talk to each other and the spirit is good, everyone wants to win, you can see it in training also and everyone will die for winning,” he said.

Rasmussen also said that playing in front of the home gives the team a much needed boost to close out games, “The crowd is very important for the home team because we need everyone to be ready and play.”

Aside from Rasmussen, Weiss was able to call up veteran players such as England-based goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and naturalized forward Bienvenido Marañon for this two-game window.

Weiss stressed out the importance of having experienced players like Marañon to guide the younger players on and off the pitch. “With a certain age comes a very good maturity and he can calm the game down in important situations,” he said.

“He can help young players like him [Rasmussen], teach him a little bit because he’s 15 to 16 years older than him, he has big experience and he’s a very nice guy to be with so I’m happy to have him here,” he added.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan head coach Abdullah Almutairi pointed out that playing the Philippines will be beneficial for their own preparations.

“I think in the last one year and a half, they have five coaches or four coaches so they don’t have the stable situation, same as us in Afghanistan, so I think it will be a good opportunity for us,” he said.

Almutairi, who was only appointed as Afghanistan head coach last April, acknowledged that there are multiple adjustments when a new coach comes in, but he has full faith in his players.

“I believe in my players, we have, not captains, we have leaders so I think even if the situation not good in the field, inside the field, Farshad [Noor] can lead them to win.”

“As a player, if a coach come and go all the time, it is difficult to build [stability] also so they are searching also for their way and I think it’s a good time for us also to take advantage of this,” added Afghanistan team captain Noor. –

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