Azkals face North Korea in Pyongyang sans Patiño
The Philippines will miss top striker Javier Patiño for the crucial World Cup Qualifying duel with North Korea on Oct. 8 in Pyongyang.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley left Patiño out from the 22-man side bound for the North Korean capital, after the striker who has scored three goals in seven appearances for the national side, sustained what appeared as a hamstring injury in a Chinese Super League game last Sept. 20.
Patiño who plays for CSL side Henan Jianye told Dooley he could be out for “two to three weeks” which means the striker could still make the trip to Manama for the game against Bahrain on Oct. 13.
The Azkals are third in Group H after starting the qualifying campaign with two wins against a single defeat. They lost to Uzbekistan, 1-5, in their most recent WCQ match at Philippine Sports Stadium last Sept. 8.
Dooley said preparations for the two away matches have been far from ideal as Manila-based players are on a break the past three weeks with the United Football League season already finished.
“We will try to make the best out of the situation,” said Dooley. “These are two tough matches away and we hope we get some points from these two games.”
Defender Juani Guirado has also been left out of the team due to an injury just like Simone Rota, but skipper Rob Gier has been recalled after undergoing knee surgery early this month.
The Azkals are leaving for Pyongyang via Shanghai on Oct. 4.