Filed Under: Sports, Football, Soccer, AFC Challenge Cup, Philippines, Azkals, Myanmar, Palestine, Bangladesh
MANILA—National Football coach Hans Michael Weiss will be bringing a more attack-minded side to the AFC Challenge Cup group qualifying stage in Rangoon, Myanmar starting Monday.
With the impending absence of star striker Phil Younghusband, Weiss added offensive depth by including strikers Angel Aldeguer, William Espinosa, Patrick Hinrichsen and Yannick Tuason and midfielder Ricardo Becite in the lineup.
Dropped from the squad were defenders Joebel Bermejo, Reymark Palmes, Jerry Barbaso and Kim Relucio and midfielder Peter Jaugan, who were informed of the decision by the German coach Wednesday night.
“I think this gives us the quality we need to move to the next level,” Weiss told the Inquirer upon the team’s arrival in Manila yesterday morning.
“Our new players give us better options.”
The Azkals, who resume training today at the University of Makati pitch before leaving for Rangoon on Saturday, suffered a blow with Younghusband forced to sit out the group stage because of a partial hamstring tear.
A source in the team said Younghusband would need at least three weeks to recover from injury.
“We made the changes we needed to do,” said team manager Dan Palami. “The experience in Mongolia only made the team stronger.”
Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will return to the squad together with defender Rob Gier in a development welcomed by Weiss, but defensive midfielder Jason de Jong will again miss the group qualifying because of his commitment with his Indonesian club.
The Philippine Football Federation has given a $500 bonus to members of the squad for advancing to the group stage.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, who made the announcement at the Beijing Airport Wednesday night, said the Azkals can expect a bigger incentive if they advance to the main tournament next year.
Meanwhile, Araneta, along with Smart Communications officials Orlando Vea and Patrick Gregorio yesterday signed the Memorandum of Agreement sealing the P80 million sponsorship deal for the PFF for the next 10 years.