Azkals unveil 'best' squad for Indonesia friendly
By Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 06/04/2012 7:00 PM | Updated as of 06/04/2012 7:08 PM
The Philippine National Men's Football Team, with head coach Hans Michael Weiss. Photo by ABS-CBNnews.com.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Men's Football Team will play what may be its best line-up ever when they take on the visiting Indonesia national team on Tuesday for a FIFA international friendly at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Even with the departure of talented Filipino-German midfielder Stephan Schrock, Azkals head coach Michael Weiss remains confident.
"We are expecting the arrival of Dennis Cagara and Jerry Lucena... Neil Etheridge and the Younghusband brothers are coming," Weiss said during the pre-match press conference held at the Discovery Suites on Monday.
"We have a very strong squad, maybe the best squad that has ever been played in the Philippines. So we are not short on options," he added.
Schrock played in the Azkals' friendly against Malaysia last Friday in Kuala Lumpur, which ended in a goalless draw.
He was supposed to suit up against Indonesia too, but had to fly back to Germany to take care of "an urgent family emergency."
"We all know that Stephan was very excited to come home to the Philippines to join his teammates during scheduled games this whole month of June," the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) said in a statement.
"Though playing for our country is a great honor for Stephan, family always comes first," the PFF added.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami also announced that the team's friendly against Indonesia will be dedicated to Schrock.
Etheridge and Phil and James Younghusband were unable to play against Malaysia, but will suit up in tomorrow's friendly.
It will be the first meeting between the Philippines and Indonesia since their semi-finals match-up in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, the tournament that launched the Azkals to stardom.
(From L-R) Indonesian striker Irfan Bachdim, Indonesia head coach Nil Maizar, Philippine Azkals head coach Michael Weiss, team captain Chieffy Caligdong and defender Rob Gier. The Philippine Azkals will play Indonesia in a friendly on June 5 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Photo by ABS-CBNnews.com.
The Indonesians were victorious in the two-leg semi-finals, winning 2-0 on aggregate and advancing to the finals, where they lost to Malaysia.
Even so, the players insist that the upcoming friendly is not a "grudge match."
"I don't really consider it a revenge match. A lot of things have happened since that semi-finals. We just want to win every game," said defender Rob Gier.
"Indonesia is going to be a strong side, and both squads will have lots of different players and a new coach, so it’s going to be an interesting game," he added.
Team captain Chieffy Caligdong added that more than revenge, what the Azkals really have in mind is preparation.
"Para sa akin, kahit na it's a friendly game, preparation na rin natin 'to sa Suzuki Cup ngayon taon," he said.
Gier agreed, saying that their performance in tomorrow's match will allow the team to "gauge where we are and where we need to be, how we need to improve before the Suzuki Cup later this year."
Weiss said the friendly will also be a way to see how the Azkals have progressed since that fateful tournament.
Meanwhile, midfielder James Younghusband believes that their game against Indonesia will be the perfect time for other players in the squad to show what they can do on the pitch.
"Looking at all the possible players that we have available... it's really important that we give other players an opportunity, give everyone a fair chance and give everyone an opportunity to impress the coach and have a good chance to play in the Suzuki Cup," he said.
Like the Azkals, the Indonesian national team has also experienced a major overhaul since the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Only three players from that team will play in tomorrow's friendly: goalkeeper Markus Maulana, midfielder Oktovianus Maniani and striker Irfan Bachdim.
"This Philippine team is a good team, because two days ago you played Malaysia to 0-0," said Indonesia head coach Nil Maizar. "I hope we will see a good result for this."
"I met the players and I think it will be a good team," said Bachdim. "There are good players from the Philippines. I know my team, of course. It is a good team and we will fight of course for a good result."
Both the Philippines and Indonesia will see action in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, which will be held on November 24 to December 22, and is co-hosted by Thailand and Malaysia.
Philippine Azkals Line-Up
1. Neil Etheridge (GK)
2. Rob Gier (DF)
3. Jason Sabio (MF)
4. Juani Guirado (DF)
5. James Younghusband (MF)
6. Manuel Ott (DF)
7. Misagh Bahadoran (FW)
8. Phil Younghusband (FW)
9. Angel Guirado (FW)
10. Emelio "Chieffy" Caligdong (FW)
11. Carli De Murga (DF)
12. Andres Crisanto Gonzales (MF)
13. Bongbong Roxy Dorlas (MF)
14. Patrick Reichelt (MF)
15. Jerry Lucena (MF)
16. Denis Wolf (MF)
17. Jason De Jong (MF)
18. Paul Mulders (DF)
19. Ian Araneta (FW)
20. Marwin Angeles (MF)
21. Lexton Moy (DF)
22. Mario Javier Clarino (FW)
23. Jeffrey Christiaens (DF)
24. Roland Muller (GK)
25. Eduard Sacapano (GK)
26. Dennis Cagara (DF)