Azkal “Chieffy” Caligdong promised a strong comeback when his team sees action in the Peace Cup in September in Manila and in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November in Vietnam.
Caligdong, 32, missed the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in Maldives in May because of an ankle fracture. Despite his absence, the Azkals managed to pull off a historic first runner up finish behind champion Palestine.
“I’m 100 percent healthy and ready to return. I want to be part of the team now,” the former Philippine Air Force midfielder told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “I really wanted to get back since last May and help my team but my doctor told me to just rest.”
In his first three days of training, the Iloilo City native said that he is very happy with the way American coach Thomas Dooley is handling the team’s preparation.
“Any coach can handle the team. So far, we have no problem with him [Dooley]. He is a good coach,” said Caligdong. “The players respected him a lot.”
Four years ago, Caligdong played a vital role in the Philippines’ semifinals finish in the Suzuki Cup. He scored one of the two goals when the Azkals beat host Vietnam 2-0.
“We can still do the same thing we just need to work hard again,” said Caligdong. “If we really wanted to win this year’s title in Peace Cup and Suzuki Cup, we need to work hard.”
The Philippines will defend its title in the Peace Cup slated on September 1 to 9 in Manila. But the bigger challenge for the Azkals is winning the 2014 Suzuki Cup on November 22 to December 20 in Vietnam.