The Philippine national team have released the 23 man squad to play in the First Round of the World Cup Qualifiers against Sri Lanka. With a mixture of experienced players and new Azkals the team look to build on their recent success, qualifying for the Semi-Final of the Suzuki Cup and qualifying from the AFC Challenge Cup Group Stage for the first time in their history. Here is the list of players, courtesy of the lovely Araceli Socorro S. Estose:
Neil Etheridge and Edward Sacapano
Aly Borromeo, Rob Gier, Stephan Schrock, Roel Gener, Anton Del Rosario, Ray Jonsson, Jason Sabio and Dennis Cagara
Manuel Ott, James Younghusband, Jerry Lucena, Emelio ‘Chieffy’ Caligdong, James Rochlitz, Paul Mulders, Ricardo Becite and Nestorio Margarse
Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado, Misagh Bahadoran and Nate Burkey
After the recent loss to the UFL All Stars, reported here as the Payatas and Kasiglahan kids watched the Azkals for the first game, the Azkals have faced more criticism than usual. However it must be remembered that the team have been trying out different players in positions, trying to let the latest Azkals settle into the squad and even experimenting with new formations. Indeed it’s likely that the Azkals will field the 4-3-3 that they used for most of the match against the UFL All Stars. Dominating much of possession there is a lot to be excited about with the Azkals. James Younghusband had a great game in central midfield with some pin-point accuracy and a few more friendly games would really help the team.
It seems Coach Weiss is playing a system more akin to the Arsenal and Barcelona style of Total Football. Developed in the 1970s by FIFA Manager of the Century Rinus Michels, Total Football makes positions fluid, any player can cover for other players as defenders will move forward and play in midfield and even attack. Arsenal and Barcelona, however, have made the defence more fixed while their attackive players switch position. This allows the defence to be more organised while the attack has a fluid danger making players difficult to mark. With Chieffy, P. Younghusband and Burkey all switching roles frequently during the last game once the team is used to the new system it could lead to devastating effects. Predicted line-up and formation:
Schrock Gier Borromeo Cagara
J. Younghusband Lucena Jonsson
P. Younghusband Guirado Caligdong
Tickets sold out quickly for the July 3 match, within two hours the P200 and P300 had all gone. As tweeted earlier by myself on @roymondous, where you can find the latest Azkals news and tweetcasted Azkals games, it just goes to prove that the Philippines have become a heavyweight in South-East Asian football and could fill a huge stadium like Indonesia and Malaysia.
There is a lot to look forward to so subscribe to this blog and follow @roymondous to hear the latest news on the Azkals and follow the games live on Twitter.