With plenty of talent at his disposal, national coach Michael Weiss faces selection dilemmas ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup Group E Qualifying Tournament’s kickoff on Friday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Foremost among the tough choices that Weiss needs to make is in the goalkeeping position with standout keepers Roland Muller and Neil Etheridge both available for the tournament. Ed Sacapano also displayed good form in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Etheridge will only be suspended for the match against Brunei on Friday for his behavior in the stands during the third-place match against Palestine at the last Challenge Cup in Nepal.
But he will be available for the matches against Cambodia and Turkmenistan. Etheridge has been solid the past few years for the Azkals and goes out of his way to make himself available even for friendly matches.
Muller, the Fil-German who had a good season in the German second division, has displayed sharp form when called up by Weiss.
There are also plenty of options on the flanks with skipper Chieffy Caligdong, James Younghusband, Patrick Reichelt, Misagh Bahadoran and even Jeffrey Christiaens and Angel Guirado all looking to lock up places in the two wing positions.
“I think we have good depth in the team and the competition for places in the team will be good in the next few days,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
Except for Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara, who were set to arrive last night, and Jerry Lucena, who will plane in a day before the Brunei game, the Azkals, including newcomer Javier Patino, are now training under Weiss after getting released by their respective clubs.