Now available after skipping important tournaments last year, goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and midfielder Manny Ott have been recalled for the Philippine side that will face Burma (Myanmar) in an international friendly in Yangon next week.
Etheridge missed the AFF Suzuki Cup last year due to commitments with his club Fulham, while Ott also focused on his club career in Germany last year, forcing him out of the AFC Challenge Cup as well as the Suzuki Cup.
But with the Burma friendly on Feb. 6 falling on an international date, there seems to be no problem securing the release of Ether-idge and Ott to the team which is preparing for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in March.
The Azkals will face Turkmenistan, Brunei and Cambodia in the Group E Qualifiers from March 22 to 26 at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Only the top team in the group will advance to next year’s main tournament in the Maldives.
England-based defender Rob Gier, who is coming off a rock-solid performance in the Suzuki Cup, is also expected to return to the side for the Myanmar match.
After the Burma match, the Azkals may stop in Thailand to play a local club either on Feb. 9 or 10, according to Philippine Football Federation general secretary Ed Gastanes.
Azkals manager Dan Palami said the other players based in Europe like Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara will be called up in the late stages of the preparation or just during the tournament itself.