PHILIPPINE Football Federation president Mariano Araneta is so impressed with the Azkals’ victory in the recent Peace Cup he thinks the same lineup can serve the country well if given the chance.
The country’s first international football title in 99 years came despite the absence of regular Azkals starters like Neil Etheridge, Phil and James Younghusband, Stephen Schrock, Rob Gier and Jerry Lucena.
Making up for their absence due to various commitments here and abroad were a bunch of under-22 players and a couple of promising recruits like Matt Uy, Demi Omphroy, Jeff Christiaens and Patrick Reichelt.
Araneta said the Peace Cup success proved that a team that trains and stays together for a longer period of time can always rise to the occasion.
“Of course, we want a team that plays together. That’s very important,” said the PFF president during Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
But Araneta said it doesn’t mean the Azkals should no longer tap the foreign-based players especially in the bigger tournaments like the AFC Suzuki Cup in November.
However, Araneta said the Azkals, from the coaching staff to management, must make sure that those plucked from overseas are those who don’t have trouble adjusting to the team.
“We can still think about injecting two or three players from Europe, players with top-quality games, like Stephen Schrock who can adapt to the style of the team any time he’s there,” he said in the session presented by Smart, Pagcor, and Shakey’s.
Since most of the players in the Peace Cup are seeing action in the UFL Cup, there’s a very good chance that most of them can keep their spots in the Azkals’ lineup.
“All of them will play in the UFL so there’s a chance we can have an intact team. They’ve already have shown they can be relied upon.
“We will try to develop this team and from time to time we call in players from Europe. We need players that can jell with the team,” said Araneta.