A PROMISING recruit and two standout goalkeepers join key players from the Azkals’ Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup squad as the Philippines begins its buildup for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup.
The Philippine Football Federation on Monday revealed the national men’s football team roster, arguably the best lineup assembled for the Azkals ahead of the qualifiers that kick off on Friday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Filipino-Spanish striker Javier Patiño is the newest addition to the squad, while goalkeepers Neil Etheridge and Roland Muller as well as midfield dynamo Stephan Schrock rejoin the holdovers from the team that made a second straight semifinal finish in the Suzuki Cup last November.
Fellow overseas-based booters Dennis Cagara, Rob Gier, Angel and Juani Guirado, Jerry Lucena, and Paul Mulders are back for another tour of duty as they link up with Marwin Angeles, Chieffy Caligdong, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, Chris Greatwich, Carli de Murga, Patrick Reichelt, Ed Sacapaño, and James and Phil Younghusband.
OJ Porteria, who scored the winner in the Azkals’ 1-0 decision against Myanmar in their only international friendly so far this year held last month, Misagh Bahadoran, and Matthew Uy are the other new faces in the 23-man team.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss believes he has a more potent offensive squad that will be grouped with Turkmenistan, Cambodia, and Brunei in the March 22 to 26 meet.
“We have to take the steering wheel more in our hands rather than being too much on the defensive and sitting too deep. I think this is a good opportunity to move forward, but without underestimating the opponents,” the German mentor said.
Caligdong, however, stressed the importance of cohesion more than anything.
“Hindi natin kailangan yung mga good players. Kailangan natin yung good team. So kailangan dito yung teamwork at yung communication sa loob ng pitch,” The Azkals skipper said.