U-23 Azkals nurse high SEA Games hopes
SINGAPORE—The Philippine U-23 football squad hit the ground running here, training twice a day since arriving last Tuesday in hopes of making at least the semifinals of the 28th Southeast Asian Games.
The team won’t be at full strength, though, as seven original members of the squad have been tapped for the national team playing in the World Cup qualifier against Bahrain on June 11.
But coach Marlon Maro is upbeat about the team’s chances, saying the country has a good draw. The U23 Azkals will kick off its campaign on Monday against host Singapore.
“We have high expectations because we got lucky in the draw and we are bringing a young but competitive team,” Maro told the Inquirer.
The team is without Azkals standouts Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato, OJ Porteria, Curt Dizon, Mark Hartmann, Manuel Ott and Kenshiro Daniels, but for Maro it’s still very competitive.
The Filipinos’ best finish in the Games was in 1991 in Manila when Maro and his teammates reached the semifinals.