15 members of Philippine Azkals arrive; set to meet fans on Monday
THEY have been hounded by star-struck fans wherever they go.
But yesterday morning, some 15 members of the Philippine Azkals, the country’s newest sports heartthrobs, managed to avoid the usual pandemonium upon their arrival in Mactan Cebu International Airport, thanks to a standby bus, a separate exit and police escorts.
Arriving with head coach Michael Hans Weiss were Azkals team captain Aly Borromeo, Cebuano Paolo Pascual, Chieffy Caligdong, Ian Araneta, Roel Gener, Yanti Bersales, William Espinosa, Yanick Tuazon, Ricardo Becite, Edward Sacapano, Christopher Camcam, Nestorio Margarse, James Rochmitz and new member Nathan Burkey.
Anton del Rosario and Neil Etheridge will arrive today while Jason Sabio, Simon Greatwich and James and xPhil Younghusband will arrive this weekend.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami will arrive tomorrow.
Azkals media coordinator Jojie Ronda said the team is here for team building but that they also have other activities including a meet and greet with local fans.
During a brief press conference, Coach Weiss said that he will soon come up with the 23-man list whom he will bring to Germany for training in preparation for their World Cup Qualifier against Sri Lanka in Manila on June 29.
As for Cebuano-British Chad Gould whose bid to re-join the team was sidelined by an infected mosquito bite, coach Weiss said that they would have to see how fast he recovers but that his chances are very slim after he was advised by his doctor not to play football for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Ronda said having police escorts was not their idea but they were thankful because they were able to avoid heavy traffic on their way to the Grand Convention to attend a lunch hosted by the Cebu Amateur Football Club (CAFC).
“Our bus is big and the roads here are narrow unlike in Manila. If not for those police escorts we would have arrived for lunch at 2 p.m. because of the heavy traffic,” Ronda said.
Jojo Rodriguez, the team’s administration officer, also denied that there is a ban for local media, an issue that came up when the team used a different exit at the airport, unwittingly eluding sports writers.
Writers who followed the Azkals bus were also banned from entering Plantation Bay and were told that only the Sports Unlimited crew will be admitted for an exclusive coverage.
Rodriguez said they had no such arrangement with the hotel.
Ronda explained that the Azkals will be available for interviews anytime except when they are having their team building activities and training. /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON
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