• Mike Ott to bolster Azkals offense

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    Filipino-German booter Mike Ott is expected to fortify the frontline of the Philippine National Football Team in their back-to-back friendlies starting October 7.

    The younger brother of Azkals mainstay Manuel Ott, Mike joined the team in June 2013 but was sidelined in the tune-up match against Hong Kong.

    The 21-year-old striker has played with several youth squads in Germany and is currently a player of the second team of 1. FC Nurnberg in the Regionalliga Bayern.

    Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley said he chose Mike to substitute for Javier Patino.

    “Javier is not available in October and Mike is playing that position. It will be good time to see him a little bit in the next two games,” Dooley told The Manila Times.

    Dooley said that despite the uncertainty of Ott’s availability for the Suzuki Cup on November, he considers him a good addition to the team.

    According to Dooley, Ott played some great games in Germany and is in the roster of the 1. FC Team in Nurnberg, “He knows how to put the ball in the net. He makes great decision in front of the goal and he can set up players to scoring goals. I need to see him how he can handle playing with us against other teams.”

    The 54-year-old retired American skipper Dooley also declared that the core of the Azkals is still intact despite the addition of new faces in the line-up.

    “The core of the team is clear. I just want to see young players for the future. Maybe there is somebody stepping up in training and shows me that he is better or performs better than others, he will get a chance,” Dooley said.

    Defensive problem
    After the retirement of most of its back-line players, the Azkals need to fortify its defense.

    Since the departure of veterans Juani Guirado and Rob Gier, the young Amani Aguinaldo was left as the lone central defender of the team.

    In their recent games, the Azkals have relied on midfielders Luke Woodland, Simone Rota and Dennis Villanueva to link up with Aguinaldo on the team’s defense.

    Dooley said that he’s looking for three more centerbacks but is glad that Villanueva and Woodland are performing well in their new position.

    “I wish I would have three more centerbacks, but at the moment there is nobody better in that position than Amani, Luke and Dennis.”

    Dolley said that there are already prospects under their radar but have not committed yet playing for the national team.

    “There are two to three other young players out there but they didn’t make a decision to play for us. Not yet but hopefully soon,” he concluded.

    The Azkals are scheduled to clash against Bahrain on October 7, and North Korea on October 10, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

    The two friendlies are part of the team’s preparation for the Southeast Asian Championship group stage that will be held at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan starting November 19.

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