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    Azkals defiant despite missing key players for AFF Suzuki Cup

    Nov 28, 2021
    Scott Cooper and the Azkals eye a solid run in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    THE Philippine Azkals look to make it deep into the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 despite challenges during the buildup.

    Azkals coach Scott Cooper said the team didn’t have some of the players that they wanted, with this year’s Suzuki Cup not being part of the Fifa calendar.

    “We have to look at the last Suzuki Cup (in 2018) and that half of that schedule, was in the Fifa calendar,” said Cooper.

    “For this tournament, we have so many players unavailable and most of them were unable to be released by their clubs. We don’t have that luxury as other countries so we’re hoping that organizers look at the calendar in the future.”

    Injuries have also marred the buildup, with Jarvey Gayoso, Manny Ott, Carli De Murga, Michael Baldissimo, Matthew Baldissimo, Sebastian Rasmussen, and Adian Ugelvik out.

    Other players were unable to secure a release, including Josh Grommen, Patrick Deyto, and Randy Schneider.

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    “We have to deal with the situation. I think now more than ever, the team will have to summon the never-say-die spirit that Filipinos are known for,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.

    Still, Cooper believes the team remains capable of making waves in the tournament with this 27-man roster. The Azkals have reached the semifinals in four of the last five editions of the Suzuki Cup.

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    The team will have strikers Bienve Maranon, Angel Guirado, and Patrick Reichelt, midfielders Stephan Schrock, Harry Foll, Dennis Chung, Sandro Reyes, Oli Bias, Kevin Ingreso, Oskari Kakkonen, Amin Nazari, Kenshiro Daniels, Mike Ott, and Iain Ramsay, and defenders Amani Aguinaldo, Justin Baas, Matthew Custodio, Mar Diano, Yrick Gallantes, Christian Rontini, Daisuke Sato, Martin Steuble, Jefferson Tabinas, and Jesper Nyholm.

    Goalkeepers Kevin Ray Hansen, Bernd Schipmann, and Quincy Kammeraad are also part of the Azkals.

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    “It’s extremely difficult hence we have to temper our expectations. We have a nice squad and we have a new addition in Jesper Nyholm, whose season is finally finished, so we can bring him in and there’s couple of new faces coming in,” said Cooper.

    “We have a good squad, we must be positive and go on and show what we can do,” said Cooper.

    The Philippines faces Singapore on Dec. 8, Timor Leste on Dec. 11, Thailand on Dec. 14, and Myanmar on Dec. 18.

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    Scott Cooper and the Azkals eye a solid run in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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