Chances of having intact Azkals likely, says PFF chiefBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines men’s football squad’s first international title in nearly a century was a product of enough preparation.
That was the assessment of PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta of the Azkals’ success in the recent Philippine Football Peace Cup held here last week.
“It just shows that our preparations really helped. That was the team who went to the United States to train,” said Araneta Tuesday in the weekly PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate in Manila.
Dennis Wolf, the hattrick hero in the 5-0 clobbering of Macau, throughout the competition emerged as the new scoring option for the national team — in the absence of the Younghusband brothers.
“We were confident with the players that we have. With the exposure they go, we knew they could step up even without the regular stars,” said Araneta.
Araneta, cleared, though, that Phil and James Younghusband are still part of the national team pool, and “it’s up to the national team management” if they’re going to be called up again.
The sweep of the Peace Cup was a good indication of where the team is as in terms of preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup, the same tournament which changed football in the Philippines.
And the chances of having a cohesive, intact and just as talented squad to the Suzuki Cup this November is highly likely — big thanks to the United Football League.
Wolf, along with most of the players in the squad included in the line-up in the Peace Cup, plays for different clubs in the local league.
“We don’t have new players — expect for the one that are playing in Europe. There’s a chance we’re going to have an intact squad,” said Araneta. “We will really try to develop this young team.”
“We want a team that trains together, but we also want to inject two-three players from Europe who are playing top football,” added Araneta, citing Stephan Schrock, who plays in Bundesliga, as example.
The Azkals fly to Bahrain and Kuwait to battle their nationals this October as another part of their buildup and might have a local training camp in November.