UFL offers backing to help Azkals prepare for Challenge Cup

MANILA, Philippines – With the Philippine National Men’s Football Team gunning to win it all at the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May, the United Football League has assured its full support to give the Azkals the best possible chance in the upcoming tournament happening in the Maldives.

The winner of the May 19-30 tournament will gain an automatic ticket to the prestigious AFC Asian Cup next year in Australia, and the Philippines is keen to improve from their bronze medal finish in the 2012 edition after hiring German-born American Thomas Dooley to call the shots for the Azkals.

After conflicts in scheduling with the UFL marred the squad’s preparations in their past tournaments, the league’s president Randy Roxas has guaranteed the Azkals its backing in releasing players for upcoming practice sessions and training camps approaching the all-important competition for the 127th FIFA-ranked Philippines.

“This is the very first time we have come together as a group and we appreciate the Federation’s effort in keeping the UFL clubs and its players informed on the national team’s objectives, program and schedule. The UFL remains committed in its support of the Federation and the Men’s National Team,” Roxas said in an official statement earlier this week.

“Our objectives in terms of football development are aligned and we fully recognize that a successful Men’s National Team performance in the AFC Challenge Cup will lead to faster growth of the sport in the country.”

The Philippines has been drawn in Group B with Afghanistan, Laos, and Turkmenistan while hosts Maldives will be playing Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Palestine in Group A.

Some of the Azkals mainstays who play in the UFL are Phil and James Younghusband from Loyola, Global’s Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jeff Christiaens, and Carli de Murga, OJ Porteria and Chris Greatwich from Kaya, Chieffy Caligdong from Green Archers United and Army keeper Ed Sacapano, among others. - Rappler.com