The Philippine national men’s football team will enjoy the full strength of its foreign-based players for the upcoming 2014 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium this month.
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss said that the team have already secured the availability of defender Rob Gier, midfielder Paul Mulders, striker Angel Guirado and the team’s highly-touted new recruit, Javier Patiño.
InterAKTV earlier reported that midfielders Stephan Schrock and Jerry Lucena, goalkeepers Neil Etheridge and Roland Mueller and defenders Dennis Cagara, Juani Guirado, and Ray Jonsson have also confirmed their participation in the tournament.
“We have all the overseas players confirm their availability,” Weiss said. “It will be very interesting to see them.”
The Challenge Cup qualifiers fall on FIFA international match dates, which forces clubs to release their players called up for national team duty.
Despite that, Weiss doesn’t want to think that the Azkals will easily win the qualifiers despite fielding what could be the squad’s best lineup.
“It is a tournament that can be won… (but) it’s not a walk in the park,” Weiss said.
The Azkals will play Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and Turkmenistan in Group E of the Challenge Cup qualifiers at the Rizal Stadium slated from March 22 to March 26.
The top team from their bracket, as well as the two best second-placed squads, will qualify for the Challenge Cup proper in Maldives next year, where the Azkals aim to surpass their third-place finish in the same tournament last year.