Caligdong relishes mentoring new generation of Azkals

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James Joseph Younghusband of the Philippines kicks the ball past his opponent during a friendly match against Bahrain at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on Friday. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

James Joseph Younghusband of the Philippines kicks the ball past his opponent during a friendly match against Bahrain at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on Friday. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

Former Philippine National Football Team standout Chieffy Caligdong said that he now relishes his new role as one of the assistant coaches of the Azkals.

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Caligdong, who became one of coach Thomas Dooley’s deputies in September, mentored the Azkals in their recent friendly matches against Bahrain and North Korea.

It was a challenging start for Caligdong as the Azkals lost to Bahrain, 1-3, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Friday.

“It was bad because we lost but it’s okay because it was a good experience for me and for the team. There was a lot of pressure to me and to the team,” said the 34-year-old retired Azkal in an interview.

Caligdong, a Pototan, Iloilo native started his career with the national team back in 2004 and retired in 2013.

Since then, Caligdong started coaching the Under-14 and Under-16 squads while still playing professionally for the Green Archers United FC in the United Football League.

He believes that his understanding of the continental football landscape as a veteran Azkal will benefit his wards.

“I am still not familiar with the strength and weaknesses of the players but I believe what they need is guidance about the things that they need to improve on during the games,” Caligdong said.

He commended the fitness and preparedness of the players; “They are good and 100 percent ready for the games. During our first training session, I saw that they are pretty fit and good.”

Caligdong sees the slim number of players to field the back line as the team’s weakness.

“We have problems in our back line. I think it’s the only problem with the team. So we need to correct it,” he said.

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