Philippine men’s football team coach Michael Weiss believes the Azkals will be able to form a pretty solid side against Malaysia in their coming Fifa friendly despite the absence of key players Neil Etheridge (suspension) and Phil and James Younghusband (previous commitment).
Weiss said four Fil-Germans who missed the Azkals’ bronze medal campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup will be on hand to reinforce Phl XI for the June 1 match against host Malaysia. They are midfielder Stephan Schröck of Bundesliga first division squad TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, midfielder Manny Ott of Ingolstadt II, striker Denis Wolf of 1. FC Magdeburg, and keeper Roland Müller of MSV Duisburg.
The Azkals mentor is also excited with the entry of homegrown custodian Patrick Deyto of UFL side Green Archers United Globe.
“We’ll have Schröck coming over, Ott coming over, Wolf probably playing on top and Müller will be in goal. We’ve also invited a new talent from Green Archers, a very promising Filipino keeper, Patrick Deyto, “ Weiss said in an interview on “The Football Connection” radio program yesterday.
“We have a good, wide variety between the post and other positions; we have a bigger pool where we can easily swap players and then give others a chance. It will test Muller in a good competition and we’ll see how Wolf will harmonize with Schröck and Ott. We’ll have a very good team,” he added.
Etheridge will serve a one-game suspension for “violating” Article 57 of the AFC Disciplinary Code while watching on the sidelines the Azkals’ Challenge Cup third-place match against Palestine last March 19 in Nepal while the Younghusbands have a previous commitment that conflicts with the friendly in Kuala Lumpur.
Etheridge, and Phil and James will be rejoining the Azkals in their next two matches, against Indonesia on June 5 in Manila and versus Guam on June 12 in Bacolod.
Weiss said more reinforcements are due after the Malaysia fixture, with fancied Fil-Dutch Dennis Cagara of FSV Frankfurt and Jerry Lucena of AGF Aarhus planing in.
“I expect the team to be very strong against Indonesia because all the players will be at that match,” said Weiss, thrilled with the prospect of assembling “probably one of the strongest lineups Phl has ever seen.”
The core of the Azkals, those who are based in Phl like Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado, and Carli de Murga along with young prospects, will go on a training camp in San Carlos City on May 21-24 to be followed by a similar session in Bacolod on May 25-28. Two exhibition matches are being arranged for the camp designed to kick off the Azkals’ preparations for the three international friendlies.