THE Philippine men’s football team finalizes its preparations for the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Thursday night when it faces Singapore in a friendly at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
Gametime is set at 7 p.m. with the Azkals hoping to duplicate their stunning 2-0 win over the Singaporeans, also known as the Lions, last September in a match that ended more than two decades of losing for the Filipino footballers against their Southeast Asian neighbors.
The Azkals, however, will likely be facing a full-strength Lions’ squad, with star striker Aleksandar Duric returning to the fold after missing the September exhibition.
“I think now they’ll be complete unlike last time, some players were missing — Duric especially,” Azkals coach Michael Weiss said.
“But now we are in a position where we are strong enough to not look at the opponents’ star players but rather on our own strengths,” the German mentor added.
Prolific midfielder Stephan Schrock won't be around this time after starring for the Azkals in their last meeting by making Phil Younghusband and Chieffy Caligdong’s goals possible.
The Azkals lineup, this time, is composed of the Philippine Football Peace Cup championship core bolstered by overseas-based veterans Rob Gier, Chris Greatwich, and Ray Jonsson.
Up-and-coming forward Joshua Beloya and goalkeeper Paolo Pascual are also returning to the national team.
Marvin Angeles and Matt Uy, who both played for Global in the United Football League Cup semifinals against Loyola Meralco on Tuesday, likewise report back to duty along with the Sparks’ Youghusband, older brother James, and Anto Gonzales.