By ADELA DEYAEN WAYAS
BAGUIO CITY — This team has sparked anew the nation’s industry in football, and their popularity continues to rise.
The Azkals’ victory over Mongolia’s national football team, the Blue Wolves by a 2-0 score gave the Azkals greater prestige in the football arena. Now they’re preparing for another match slated this March.
Team Azkals arrived in Baguio to train week-long for the upcoming and second leg of the 2012 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) challenge on March 15, 2011 in Ulan Bator, Mongolia where the temperature is -17 degree celcius. They have been training at the Melvin Jones grounds which the local government improved precisely in time for the team’s arrival.
After Baguio and as part of their physical conditioning for the freezing Mongolian weather, the Azkals will also fly to Japan next week. The team is optimistic that they will again overcome the Blue Wolves and land a spot in the qualifying series of the AFC.
During their press conference at Baguio Country Club, Coach Hans Michael Weiss said the city is a good place for training because of the comfortable climate and the friendly atmosphere. For their part, members of the whole team thanked the people of Baguio and La Trinidad with their warm welcome and full support. Fans from outside the city outskirts also came to watch the Azkals train.
Even as they admitted that the Mongolian team will have the home-court advantage in the next match, the Azkals said that they will train harder so as not to disappoint their fans and supporters.
Meanwhile, Senator Miguel Zubiri who was also in Baguio recently, commitment to locate funds to improve a existing sports facilities in the city, as well as purchase new ones. He said this would be great if Baguio becomes the seat of Azkals’ trainings.
Free football lessons
Despite the busy training schedule of the team, Azkals provided free lessons to 20 young students, some are beneficiaries of the Junior Chamber International-Baguio Sunflower while the others are elementary football players of Beckel Elementary School (BES).
The football players of BES expressed their joy after meeting the Azkals. Leaders of the BES football players Michael Nag-is and Nicole Abellera expressed gratitude for the amazing experience with the famous sports champions of the country.
“We are overwhelmed by the presence of our favorite football team, and very happy that they gave us their time,” they said. The BES players are also preparing for a local football competition.
“We are now more confident that we’ll win our upcoming match because of the free lessons the Azkals gave us,” they said.