THE Philippine men’s Under-23 football team still stands proud in representing the country as it takes on Singapore on Sunday in a charity friendly in the opponent’s territory at the Hougang Stadium.
Deprived of the chance to play in the Southeast Asian Games, the 23-Under Azkals are nevertheless set to gain valuable international exposure as they engage their Singaporean counterparts in a friendly for the benefit of the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda.
Coach Brian Reid reiterated his disappointment on the exclusion of the team from the Myanmar-bound Philippine delegation, but is still relishing the last opportunity for his promising squad to play competitively as a unit this year.
“As a football game, you still want to represent the country properly,” the Scottish mentor said. “We’ll make sure we’ll put on a good performance because it’s preparation for the next tournaments that come up.”
“And it’s for a good cause. That’s the most important thing,” added Reid, whose team’s SEA Games preparations -- which had been running for four months – was cut short last month following the bad news that it has been excluded from competing in the biennial meet.
The Filipino booters, co-incidentally, started their buildup with a friendly also against Singapore that ended in a close 0-1 loss last June.
The U-23 Azkals will have four seniors’ team members in the fold in OJ Porteria, Mark Hartmann, Jason de Jong, and Amani Aguinaldo.
The rest of the 14-man squad are midfielders Matthew Uy, Angelo Marasigan, Val Calvo, and Marvin Angeles; defenders Ronnie Aguisanda, Deo Segunial, and Nathand Octavio; goalkeepers Nick O’Donnell and Paolo Pascual; and forward David Pusing.