Misagh Bahadoran says he's up for the challenge of battling for a spot in loaded Azkals midfield
Filipino-Iranian winger Misagh Bahadoran says the challenge from top players will only make him strive to player even better. Jaime Campos 

MISAGH Bahadoran is embracing the challenge with the potential overload at midfield with the arrival of new players and the return of old Azkals as the Philippine men’s football team prepares for the World Cup Qualifiers starting next month.

Asked if he is concerned about losing his spot with the return of Stephan Schrock and Javier Patiño and the arrival of Iain Ramsay, the veteran Bahadoran said he will just have to raise his game to a notch higher to keep his spot.

“I like that because I like challenge. Challenge makes you work harder and go the next level,” the Filipino-Iranian winger-striker said on Friday in a press conference to drum up the maiden Megaworld Cup on May 31 at the Mckinley Hill Stadium.

The Filipino-Spanish Patiño plays striker for Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League, while Fil-Australian winger Ramsay last played for Melbourne City in the A-League. Another Azkals recruit, Kevin Ingreso, is an attacking midfielder for fourth-tier German side VfR Neumünster.

“There are a lot of strikers and midfielders that are coming up, so they’re a very, very big help, because their backgrounds are very strong, but that would be more challenge for me to work harder,” said Bahadoran, part of the seniors squad since 2011.

“That’s why I’ve started to become more serious and more focused because I want to really have a chance to play in this kind of games.”

Fil-Austrian defender Stephen Palla and Fil-British defensive midfielder Luke Woodland are two other prized Azkals acquisitions that are expected to bolster the national team starting in the opener of the Qualifiers, against Bahrain on June 11 at the Philippine Stadium.

And that makes it tougher for Bahadoran and the rest of the local-based booters to crack the lineup.

“It’s not easy to be part of the lineup, but I will stay positive to be chosen.”

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said he has submitted his final 23-man roster for the Qualifiers to the Philippine Football Federation, although the governing body has yet to make an announcement.

“We’ll see the decision of coach and how they (recruits) can adjust to the team,” Bahadoran said. “But I will not give up. Even though I would come in as a sub and play just five minutes, I will do my one-hundred percent.”

“It doesn’t matter who’s playing,” Bahadoran said. “It’s about the team and the win.”


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