Azkals open Peace Cup bid vs Chinese Taipei
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals will begin its Philippine Peace Cup title retention bid when they battle last year’s runner up Chinese Taipei on Friday.
The five-day tournament kicks off at 7 p.m. at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Philippines, which won the 1st Peace Cup title last year, is confident to defend its crown as they field one of the strongest Azkals team ever formed in an international match.
Flying in from Europe are Stephan Schrock, who plays for the Bundesliga Club Eintracht Frankfurt; Neil Etheridge from Fulham FC; Jerry Lucena from Esbjerg fB; and Rob Gier and Juani Guirado.
Paul Mulders, and Angel Guirado, who recently played for Global FC in Singapore, as well as Patrick Reichelt, who plays for Thai Club Singhtarua, are also joining the squad.
Meanwhile, leading the Philippine-based Azkals are Chieffy Caligdong and siblings Phil and James Younghusband, alongside Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, Patrick Deyto, Chris Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, OJ Porteria and Negrensse keeper Edward Sacapano.
Azkals’ new recruit, 25-year-old Fil-Swiss forward Martin Steuble, while joining the team in Bacolod, will not yet play in this tournament as the federation is still working on his passport. Steuble currently plays for FC Wil 1900 in Switzerland.
Head coach Hans Michael Weiss said his team has shown tremendous improvement since he first handled them in 2011.
Moreover, the German tactician is looking forward for a jam-packed Panaad crowd on Friday night -- just like when they played against Mongolia in Bacolod two years ago.
On the other hand, last year's tournament’s runner-up Chinese Taipei is aiming to avenge its 3-1 loss to the Philippines.
According to Chinese Taipei assistant coach Fang Cheng Jen, they have a different team now compared to the last time they played in the tournament. “We have new players. Most are young but I think we are ready for the tournament,” he said.
Chinese Taipei is composed of head coach Kuei-Jen Chen, assistant coaches Chi-Feng Chen and Jiunn-Ming Chen; team manager Yen-Jui Chen; Physio Therapist Kuo-Feng Sung, Media Officer Ke-Ming Chnag; and players Ruei Wang, Yu-Hung Chiu, Chang-Lun Lin, Mao Li, Kai-Chun Huang, Ming-Chan He, Meng-Hsuan Hsieh, Ting-Yang Chen, Wei-Chih Pan, Hung-Hsu Tai, Yin-Hung Tai, Yin-Hung Kuo, Meng-Chian Lee, Yueh-Han Lin,Chih-Hao Wen, Victor Zi Hsuan Chou Hsieh, Po-Liang Chen, Tai-Lin Lee and Yi-Wei Chen.
Meanwhile, the team from Pakistan will be flying in Friday night after failing to arrive yesterday.
The 22-man Pakistani team consists of keepers Yousaf Ejaz Butt, Saqib Hanif and Muzammil Hussain; defenders Muhammad Ahmed, Ahsan Ullah, Faisal Iqbal, Muhammad Hameed, Muhammad Rizwan Asif and Zeshan Rehman; midfielders MAhmood Khan, Muhammad Adil, Zain Ullah, Bilawal Ur Rehman, Saddam Hussain, Syed Arif Hussain, Abbas Ali, and Muhammad Sufyan Asif; and forwardsKaleem Ullah, Muhammad Rasool, Muhammad Bilal, Hassan Bashir and Mohammad Ali.
PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes said that despite the tournament's lack of a fourth team, the PFF is looking forward to competitive matches between the three squads.
"The Peace Cup is football's contribution to help highlight every Filipino's desire for peace, especially in Mindanao conflict areas. Football values of fair play and respect are aligned with the ongoing peace process," he said.
“These matches also signal the start of the Azkals' build-up for the AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 Finals which will be held in May next year,” he added.
Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, fir his part, noted that Bacolod is a football country and the Azkals belong there.
“I hope to have more football tournaments soon as Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. already gave the go signal to renovate the Paglaum football field to serve as second venue future games," he said.
Puentevella, who is also a member of FIFA marketing and TV committee, assured the Chinese Taipei and Pakistan teams that they will have “the best courtesy” in Bacolod as the city is also celebrating its 34th MassKara Festival.
“Speaking as a FIFA man, football unites the world and the people here will love you,” Puentevella stressed.
Tickets for the Peace Cup are now available online at Ticket World. In Bacolod, tickets will be available at the Planta Hotel and in Panaad Stadium during the match days. For interested parties, contact Planta Hotel (034) 468-0400).
Ticket prices include: Azklas games – P500 for grandstand (center), P200 grandstand (side) and P50 for bleachers; while P200 for grandstand (center), P100 grandstand (side) and P50 for bleachers during the Chinese Taipei and Pakistan match.
Meanwhile, online purchasers are reminded to show their credit cards with valid ID when redeeming match tickets.
For proxy, an authorization letter signed by both parties is required, as well as IDs with signatures from both parties and a photo copy of the credit card used.
Online purchasers proceeding straight to Panaad Stadium on game day are advised also to come at least 90 minutes before kick-off to give ample time for ticket redemption at the designated onsite TicketWorld booth.