Friendly: PH Azkals battle MalaysiansBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SELANGOR—There was a time when an absence of several key players could easily put a dent on the Philippine Azkals’ bid.
But with newfound depth in their roster, the Azkals won’t worry about missing key figures when they tangle with reigning Suzuki Cup champion Malaysia in an international friendly Friday at the Shah Alam Stadium here.
Phil and James Younghusband, goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and co-skipper Aly Borromeo are among the notable absentees.
But midfield dynamo Stephan Schrock will make his return after an 11-month absence from the national side, feeling more confident of his ability after a stellar season in the German second division, where he helped his side win the title and a promotion to the Bundesliga.
Also expected to start for the Azkals are Southeast Asian Games campaigners Roland Muller, Carli de Murga and Manny Ott as well as veterans Rob Gier, Jason Sabio, Juani Guirado, Angel Guirado, Denis Wolf and Paul Mulders. A fit Chieffy Caligdong will skipper the side.
The friendly match gives the Azkals an opportunity to chalk up ranking points that will improve their No. 148 position and gauge the strength of the opposition for their next major tournament, the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Championships—the same tournament that catapulted the team to national consciousness two years ago.
“It’s important to show what we are capable of before the Suzuki Cup and also for us to learn about the level we should expect in that tournament,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.