The names of some of the stars on the Philippine Azkals football team have surprised the Kuwaitis, who will play the Azkals in the opening match of their home-and-away series in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers at the Mohammad Al-Hammad Stadium in Hawally on July 23.
The media officer of the Kuwait Football Association said they had already received the lineup of the Philippine team but indicated “we’re surprised that most of them have non-Filipino surnames and most of them don’t need a visa to Kuwait.”
However, the official said everything is in place and Kuwait was “ready to welcome the Philippine Azkals.”
Al-Mehteb, the media officer, told the Arab Times the Kuwait National Team has been undergoing rigorous training in preparation for the match with the Azkals. The team had a training camp in Lebanon from June 27 to July 7 where it played two friendly matches against Lebanon on July 2 and Oman on July 6. The Kuwaitis beat the Lebanese, 6-0, in a match that ended in an ugly brawl and forced the military to enter the field and fire warning shots into the air.
The Kuwait team, ranked No. 102 by Fifa, 57 spots above the Philippines, is now in Amman, Jordan, to compete in a friendly tournament with the national squads of Saudia Arabia, Iraq and Jordan.
The second game of the Kuwaiti-Azkals showdown will be played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28.
The Kuwait National Team, a 10-time Gulf Cup of Nations Champion made it to the World Cup in 1982 and achieved its highest ranking of No. 24 in December 1998.
Al-Mehteb added that the team is now in Amman, Jordan, where they will take part in a friendly tournament with the national teams of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in preparation for the match against the Philippine team. “They are expected to be back in Kuwait on July 18.”
Filipinos in Kuwait are making arrangements to give the Azkals a warm welcome while the Philippine Embassy has informed the Kuwait Football Association of its willing-ness to help in efforts to ensure the success of the match.