Younghusbands ditched by Azkals for Peace CupBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals will be without leading international scorer Phil Younghusband and brother James when they vie in the Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup starting Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The lineup released Sunday by the team did not include the Fil-British brothers, who missed the training camp in the United States and the match against Malaysia last June because of prior commitments before coming back to play in the series of friendlies early this month.
The Azkals are toughening up for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and have matches lined up against Bahrain and Kuwait in October.
“Having greatly benefited from Suzuki Cup 2010, we expect our players to work harder than ever this year,” a statement from the team said yesterday.
“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.”
The team added: “While this is admittedly a setback in our plans, we understand that family obligations and club/work commitments sometimes take precedence.”
Speaking through their manager Cathy Rivilla, the Younghusband brothers expressed shock over the decision, which was relayed to them by coach Michael Weiss, who, she said, only informed the brothers via a text message.
“Anything else after the Peace Cup remains to be seen,” Weiss told the brothers whom he tried to reach Sunday.
Sources said the brothers could not commit to the Azkals’ schedule in October because of their commitment to their United Football League club, Loyola Meralco Sparks.
The Sparks still have semifinal matches in the Singapore Cup in the first week of October, which also marks the start of the UFL Cup.
Sparks chair Randy Roxas said they are ready to release the Younghusbands for national team duty on the Fifa dates.
“We remain 100 percent committed to the national team,” the brothers said through Rivilla. “We do not know what transpired as we have been in talks with coach Weiss. But we respect whatever decision management has and we will be available for whatever call up.”