Cooper bares 23-man Azkals roster
It’s a unique scenario, but coach Scott Cooper doesn’t see any problem with Serbian coach Goran Milosevic being named as head coach of the Philippines for the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers starting Thursday in Bacolod City.
Cooper, who took charge after the Azkals and Sven-Göran Eriksson parted ways following the AFC Asian Cup, clarified that he will remain as the top tactician for the squad that kicks off its qualifying campaign against Syria at Panaad Stadium.
“It is what it is,” Cooper told the Inquirer. “Goran Milosevic has been named head coach because he has a UEFA Pro License, which is something I don’t have at the moment.”
Despite his impressive credentials that has seen him win a Thai Premier League title, Thai League Cup and Thai FA Cup with Buriram, Cooper’s coaching badges aren’t enough to make the grade for AFC standards.
Cooper unveiled his 23-man squad for the Syria match with captain Stephan Schrock of Philippines Football League champion Ceres-Negros headlining the lineup.
Players who saw action in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates early this year form the majority of the squad, which include Javier Patiño, Patrick Reichelt, Daisuke Sato, Amani Aguinaldo, Alvaro Silva, Manny Ott, Mike Ott, Patrick Strauss, Kevin Ingreso, Mike Ott, Carlie De Murga, Michael Falkesgaard and Kevin Hansen.
Putting emphasis on the players’ current form, Cooper also recalled several standouts who were left out in the past few tournaments and training camps.
Defender Martin Steuble, who missed out on a spot in the Asian Cup but has made an impact for Port FC in the Thai Premier League, earned another selection. Thailand-based Mark Hartmann, Marco Casambre and Angel Guirado were also recalled, along with Ceres players Sean Kane and OJ Porteria.
Goalkeeper Patrick Deyto, who has impressed at Suphanburi even after a hand surgery sidelined him early this year, is also back in the squad.
Out due to injury in the two previous camps in Thailand and China, Manny Ott also made the grade.
But the most intriguing names in the list are teenagers Justin Baas and Yrik Galantes, who are based in the Netherlands and Scotland, respectively.
Baas is a 19-year-old centerback currently attached with AZ Alkmaar’s Under-21 side, while Galantes is a promising attacking midfielder loaned by Scottish side Hibernian to Gala Fairydean Rovers.
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