PFF wants best squad for Suzuki Cup bidBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BACOLOD CITY—The Philippine Football Federation is determined to send the best team to the 2012 Suzuki Cup even if it meant spending for the release of the national team’s Europe-based players from their clubs.
The Azkals are hoping to at least match their semifinal run two years ago, but the experienced players who have boosted the team’s stock the past two years are playing in Europe, casting doubts over their availability since the tournament doesn’t fall on Fifa international dates.
Among those playing in Europe are Stephan Schrock, who is attached with Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga, Neil Etheridge with Fulham, Jerry Lucena of Aarhus in Denmark, Paul Mulders of ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands and Manny Ott of Ingolstadt in Germany.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta yesterday said they are prepared to compensate clubs just for the players to be released.
“If we can compensate for their services, we’ll do the costs and we’ll talk to the clubs,” said Araneta who was in attendance when the Azkals whipped Guam, 3-0, in a friendly last Tuesday at the Panaad Stadium.
“We’re prepared to put up the best team whatever the cost,” he added. “We know the reality of the clubs that they’ll only release their players on Fifa match days.”
Araneta remains optimistic though pointing out the case of Etheridge and Mulders, who were released for the Challenge Cup, which was also not in the Fifa calendar.
Azkals manager Dan Palami said the team will prepare on the premise that the Europe-based players will not be available for the tournament.
“We will prepare with the worst case scenario in mind,” he said.