THE Philippine men’s football team is expected to have a full complement of players when it vies in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifiers this March at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Stephan Schrock, Neil Etheridge, and Roland Muller, all absent from the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup last December, could all be available in the Challenge Cup, along with other overseas-based mainstays, after the tournament for emerging Asian nations has been rescheduled to March 22 to 26, which are all Fifa international match dates.
Professional clubs worldwide are inclined to release their players to their national sides during Fifa-set match dates.
The AFC, according to Philippine Football Federation president Mariano 'Nonong' Araneta, approved the PFF’s request to move the date of the qualifiers from the first week of March for the governing body and the national team to prepare better for the tournament.
Rob Gier, who wore the captain’s armband in most of the Azkals’ Suzuki Cup games, Paul Mulders, Jerry Lucena, Dennis Cagara, Ray Jonsson, Juani, and Angel Guirado could also boost the Azkals, who are in Group E with Turkmenistan, and Southeast Asian neighbors Brunei and Cambodia.
The national team faces Brunei on March 22, Cambodia two days later, before colliding with Turkmenistan on March 26.
The top squad emerging from the four-nation qualifiers will earn a berth in the main tournament next year in the Maldives.