MANILA, Philippines?The Philippine football team is strengthening its coaching staff with the hiring of Swiss World Cup veteran Pascal Zuberbuhler as goalkeeper coach for the 2014 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers.
The Azkals will play Sri Lanka on June 28 in Colombo while the second leg is set at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on July 3.
The winner of the showdown will meet Kuwait on the third week of July.
A teammate of Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge at Fulham, Zuberbuhler is expected to link up with the Philippine squad in Duren, Germany, where the Azkals will undergo a two-week camp starting June 12.
The 40-year-old Zuberbuhler brings with him an impressive resumé as a player, having been capped 51 times by Switzerland, which he represented in the European Championship in 2004 and 2008 as well as the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
?We?re not taking any chances that?s why we tapped him for the World Cup qualifiers,? said team manager Dan Palami. ?His experience as a player will help our squad of goalkeepers get to the next level.?
Aside from Etheridge, the Azkals have three other goalkeepers in their pool, including Eduard Sacapano, who saw action in the 1-2 defeat to Mongolia in the AFC Challenge Cup, and teenagers Christopher Camcam and Paolo Pascual.
The 16-year-old Camcam is currently in Germany attending a training camp, which was facilitated by Azkals coach Michael Weiss.
Edzel Bracamonte, one of the members of the Azkals coaching staff, has been helping out in training the goalkeepers in previous tournaments.
?Zuberbuhler will not just train our goalkeepers but also our coaches,? said Palami. ?It will be a transfer of technology.?
Etheridge has been quick to vouch for Zuberbuhler, saying he is known at Fulham for his professionalism and work ethic.
?Zubi (Zuberbuhler) has been more of a father figure guiding me,? said Etheridge.
Zuberbuhler, who spent the early part of his career with Grasshopper Zurich where he played for 187 times, actually signified his interest to join the Azkals coaching staff through Etheridge, who recently signed a two-year deal with Fulham.