Azkals to tap Greatwich, De Jong in place of Borromeo, Schrock for Kuwait match
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals have recalled two Suzuki Cup veterans to cushion the impact of the absence of skipper Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schrock in the first leg of the World Cup qualifying showdown against Kuwait.
National team manager Dan Palami said Chris Greatwich and Jason de Jong would rejoin the Azkals, who could also get another boost if Dennis Cagara makes the trip to Kuwait for the July 23 opening leg.
Palami’s decision to recall the midfield pair came on the same day the Philippine Football Federation appealed the case of Borromeo and Schrock to the Asian Football Confederation Disciplinary Committee.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta has expressed hope of convincing the AFC that, unlike Kuwait, the Philippines had to go through the first-round qualifying.
Borromeo and Schrock picked up a yellow card in each of the two legs in the 5-1 aggregate victory over Sri Lanka and, under the rules, must sit out the first leg against Kuwait.
They will be eligible to play, though, for the second leg at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28.
“If you think about it, the rule is unfair for teams playing in the first round,” said Araneta.
“The seeded teams in the second round are already strong and that rule will further put the other teams at a disadvantage.”
Still, Palami said, the Azkals have been “working on the assumption that they (Borromeo and Schrock) will not be available.”
“That’s why we are looking to assemble a team with enough experience that coach (Michael Weiss) can work on,” he said.
Jerry Lucena and Ray Jonsson, who last played in the 3-0 win over Bangladesh in the AFC Challenge Cup, are expected to be back with the team for the Kuwait matches.
Greatwich was the top scorer for the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup, while De Jong last played for the national side in the 2-0 win over Mongolia in Bacolod City last February.
“Chris (Greatwich) has always been there,” said Palami. “It’s just that the coach cannot give him the privilege of flying straight to the game and not attend training camp.”
The Azkals resume training on Friday (July 8) at the Alabang Country Club. They will fly to Bahrain on July 14 to play two exhibition matches in preparation for the match against Kuwait.
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