PHilippine Azkals at full-power against Nepal
The Philippines will be back at full-strength for its next two matches, including its AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifying Tournament opener against Nepal on March 28 at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley has recalled goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, defender Daisuke Sato and striker Javier Patino for the international friendly against Malaysia on Tuesday that will serve as the team’s only tuneup game before the Group F clash with Nepal.
The three players missed the AFF Suzuki Cup in November last year when the Azkals crashed out of the group stage after three straight semifinal appearances as the tournament schedule was not part of the Fifa (international football association) window.
In the midst of a solid season with English League One side Walsall, Etheridge returns to the Azkals for the first time since his stellar performance in a friendly against Kyrgyzstan in September last year.
Sato, who plays for Romanian top flight side Iasi, saw action against Bahrain and North Korea in friendly matches last year, but pulled out late from the Suzuki Cup team, citing club commitment.
A few months after signing a fresh, lucrative contract extension with Chinese side Henan Jianye, Patino gives the Azkals quality at the tip of the attack which the team sorely missed late last year.
Ceres-Negros is the most well represented club in the latest round of callups with goalkeeper Roland Muller, defenders Carlie De Murga and Junior Munoz and midfielders Manny Ott, Martin Steuble, Luke Woodland, OJ Porteria and Iain Ramsay all named to the squad.
Four players from Global were called up in Misagh Bahadoran, Dennis Villanueva, Amani Aguinaldo and Patrick Deyto.
Brothers Phil and James Younghusband of Meralco Taguig were also called up along with Fitch Arboleda of Stallion and Kenshiro Daniels of Kaya Makati. Completing the side is Mike Ott who plays for Angthong United in Thailand.