By Ares P. Gutierrez, Copy Editor
Published: 11:51 February 9, 2012
Azkals vice-captain Chieffy Caligdong winced and gasped for air as he performed light exercises on the first day of the Philippine football team's training camp in Dubai on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old midfielder, who suffered a knee injury during a United Football League match on January 28 in Manila and was earlier ruled out of the Azkals' 10-day Middle East tour, was given the green light to join his teammates after he passed a fitness test last Friday.
"I'm joining the team in exercises, but it's sad. It's my first time to go abroad and not be playing with the Azkals,"Caligdong said during a press conference held before the Philippine team headed for their first workout at the Al Maktoum Stadium practice pitch.
Doctors attending to Caligdong earlier feared that the footballer suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), but an MRI scan on his left knee showed no signs of the injury.
"I'm hoping to recover as soon as possible. It's my first time to sustain an injury in my knee and I was told it would take two to three weeks for me to regain my normal movement,"he told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Azkals' training session.
Three injuries left knee
Caligdong revealed that he sustained three injuries on his left knee - an LCL (lateral collateral ligament), an MCL (medial collateral ligament) and a partial ACL.
The footballer from Iloilo province in central Philippines added that this is his fourth time to visit Dubai,
"It's nice to be back here. This is actually my fourth visit. My first time here was when I played in the beach football World Cup,"he said as he quickly clarified that the Azkals are not here on a holiday.
"We're not on vacation. We are here to toughen up for the tough Challenge Cup in Nepal next month."The Azkals, led by coach Michael Weiss, arrived in Dubai on Tuesday evening after an eight-hour direct flight from Manila.
The team is scheduled to hold three training sessions before going up against the Uzbekistan under-23 team in a friendly match on Saturday at the Al Nasr Sports Club's Al Maktoum Stadium.
The national squad will also fly to neighbouring Qatar to play a friendly against Al Ahli, before returning to Dubai to face the Australia under-23 team on February 16