Cooper sees great talent for Azkals after Bangkok camp
National football team coach Scott Cooper hailed the Azkals’ low-key training camp in Bangkok, Thailand, as a “massive success,” saying that they’ve identified several prospects for selection for future Under-23 and senior tournaments, particularly 2022 World Cup Qualifying late this year.
While other Southeast Asian nations used the international break to play friendly matches and invitational tournaments, Cooper had 28 players under his wing for a week, giving them time to understand “the style, the philosophy, and culture that we want to build.”
“The camp has been a massive success,” Cooper told the Inquirer. “In a way, we were able to take a look at 15 players that we can tap for the future Under-23, Under-22 and SEA (Southeast Asian) Games and the senior team. But, of course, nobody has been ruled out for selection and we’re just following a careful plan that we’ve got to have the team ready for September (WCQ) and SEA Games.”
Among the players who were invited for the camp were long-time prospect Michael Kempter, Enrique Linares, Diego Bardanca and Jose Carillo.
Kempter, who plays in the Swiss League, has been in the Azkals’ radar for quite some time but suffered an injury that ruled him out of selection for the Asian Cup.
Linares, who plays in the third division in Spain, is the cousin of Azkals defender Alvaro Silva.
The 26-year-old Bardanca, a defender, has the most impressive resumé among the prospects as he currently plays in the second division in Poland. Bardanca is eligible to represent the country because of his Filipino grandmother.
Carillo, a striker, whose great grandfather is Filipino, plays for Cordoba in the Spanish second division.
Only four players based in the Philippines—Silva, Mike Ott, Curt Dizon and Kevin Ingreso—joined the camp.
Thailand-based players Javier Patino, Stephan Palla, Marco Casambre, Mark Hartmann, Amin Nazari and Michael Falkesgaard also linked up with the team along with Malaysia-based Amani Aguinaldo.
“This camp has been quiet, very professional and we built it up slowly,” said Cooper.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.