Hunt on for strikers who could take Azkals to next level
The Philippine Azkals will be looking to address the biggest gap that more or less determined the outcome of their two home matches in the recent World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers.
“It clearly showed our lack of a strong finisher that could have changed the game,” Azkals team manager Dan Palami acknowledged Friday after the Azkals mustered just one point after two games in Group F of the Asian Qualifiers.
The Azkals resume the qualifying phase for the two tournaments in March when they play a home-and-away series with Group F leader Iraq, hoping to at least have the potential to get the ball to the back of the enemy’s net despite the tall odds.
Scoring chances were plenty during the two games before average crowds of 10,000, only to bottle those opportunities that resulted in a 2-0 loss to Vietnam and a 1-1 tie with Indonesia, the latter result coming despite having the lead in the first half on Patrick Reichelt’s goal.
Reichelt, usually playing the role of winger, had to be tapped by coach Michael Weiss to play upfront with the Azkals missing some of their key strikers, namely Gerrit Holtmann and Sebastian Rasmussen.
Holtman, who hasn’t played since his Azkals debut in last year’s third round of the Asian Cup Qualifiers, is said to have suffered an MCL injury while playing on loan for Turkish club Antalyaspor.
Rasmussen was also sorely missed, given the potential of the 21-year-old to produce as a forward. He has three international goals, including a sensational strike during September’s friendly with Afghanistan that ended with a 2-1 win.
Palami also hinted at possible additions, apparently of foreign-based Filipinos as the Azkals continue to work on their passports to complete their eligibility.
“We have some strikers coming in,” said Palami. “But it’s not easy to get those players because they have passport issues and it takes time to process those. And if somebody could at least be somebody in the country who could fill those shoes, I’d be happy.”