TROUBLE appears to be brewing in the Philippine men’s football team after stars Phil and James Younghusband were strangely left out in the Azkals’ lineup for the Philippine Football Peace Cup next week.
Azkals’ management released the roster on Sunday for the three-day, four-nation friendly tournament which the Philippine Football Federation has organized, with the popular brothers noticeably missing.
Co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the team’s most popular homegrown player, will lead the squad in the pocket tournament that has lured teams from Guam, Macau, and Chinese Taipei.
He will be joined in midfield by Jason de Jong, OJ Porteria, Misagh Bahadoran, Marvin and Marwin Angeles, Anto Gonzalez, Nestorio Margarse, and Patrick Reichelt.
The listed defenders are Jason Sabio, Carli de Murga, Jeff Christiaens, Demitrius Omphroy, Matthew Uy, David Basa, and Roel Gener. Ed Sacapaño and Ref Cuaresma are the goalkeepers, while Denis Wolf and Ian Araneta team up in the forward position.
Without mentioning names, officials said in a statement that some players were not included in the lineup because of their previous commitments.
“Given this grueling schedule and the demands it will entail from the team, we have asked the players to give their unequivocal commitment to participate fully in the preparations… Unfortunately, not everyone in the team could assure us of this; a few have already signified their unavailability for some crucial activities leading up to the tournament.”
Filipino-foreigners Neil Etheridge, Paul Mulders, Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena, and Rob Gier are unavailable as they have commitments with the professional clubs in Europe. But the Youghusbands have never signified they were unavailable for the upcoming tournament, which is part of the team’s preparation for the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November.
The management’s decision could be seen as a consequence of the Younghusbands missing the Azkals’ US training camp last August due to their participation in a charity match. They also missed the team’s friendly against Laos in Vientiane last September 10 as they flew back to Manila to observe the first death anniversary of their Filipino mother, Susan.
“While this is admittedly a setback in our plans, we understand that family obligations and club/work commitments sometimes take precedence. The coaching staff will instead make adjustments in the game plan and in the roster of players, starting from the Philippine Football Peace Cup,” the statement said.