BANGKOK — The Philippine Football Federation has released on Friday the Azkals’ official 22-man roster for the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup that kicks off on Saturday at the Rajamangala Stadium here.
And although he would have to cut four more booters as only 18 are allowed to be included in the game-day roster, the German mentor is not worried.
“There are so many things we have to take into consideration, but the good news is the options are so good, in depth, and we have such a big pool of players who are happy to play twenty to thirty minutes only. That’s important.”
Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong, who will skipper the squad, will be joined in the midfield by James Younghusband, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders, Demit Omphroy, Jason de Jong, Angel Guirado, Patrick Reichelt, Marwin Angeles, and Chris Greatwich.
The Azkals also field a rock-solid backline of Ray Jonsson, Rob Gier, Juani Guirado, Dennis Cagara, Carli de Murga, Jason Sabio, and Jeffrey Christiaens, while the strikers are Denis Wolf and Phil Younghusband.
With Filipino-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge’s unavailability finally confirmed, the homegrown Eduard Sacapaño will be the Azkals’ last line of defense and Ref Cuaresma his backup.
Weiss is confident Sacapaño can hold the fort with aplomb like how the Bago City native did in the Azkals’ 1-0 win over Singapore in their friendly last week.
“He didn’t have many chances before, but when he was there, he was always very good. So the whole nation who has been claiming for Filipino blood, this is the man now you have to support and not cry about Neil. We all sit in the same boat. And he’s a very socially integral man. He’s very army-like, very disciplined.
Team management seems to still be hoping for the availability of Roland Muller as the Filipino-German ’keeper was also included in the lineup.
Injured Misagh Bahadoran, Anto Gonzales, Ian Araneta, Joshua Beloya, and Nestorio Margarse Jr. were the ones cut from the 26 who flew in Thailand’s capital city.
Other players from the original 35-man lineup who were not included were Stephan Schrock, Manny Ott, Marvin Angeles, Mark Hartmann, Lexton Moy, OJ Porteria, and Matt Uy.
“I don’t need to see someone who makes a long face if he sits on the bench. I need every single individual even they’re the ones who will be deleted from the group, from the 22. It’s about teamwork and moving together in the same direction,” Weiss said.