The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) released the names of the members of the 35-man training pool ahead of the Philippine Azkals’ final two games in the joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Team captain Phil Younghusband leads the pack of veteran standouts among them Simone Rota, Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato, Patrick Deyto, Dennis Villanueva and Tomas Trigo.
Joining them are upcoming local football stars Fitch Arboleda, Ashley Flores, Shaun Soberano from Stallion FC, Jorrel Aristorenas, Daniel Gadia and Kou Ichi Belgira of Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Global FC’s Paolo Bugas, Marco Casambre and Mark Winhoffer.
Also included are OJ Clarino and his Global FC teammate Filipino-Iranian midfielder Omid Nazari.
Roland Muller leads the group of booters based abroad that includes Iain Ramsay, Neil Etheridge, Jerry Lucena, Stephan Palla, Luke Woodland and Javier Patino.
National players that are members of Kaya FC and Ceres La Salle FC, the country’s two representatives in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, are also expected to join the practice sessions beginning March 19. They are Ceres players Juani Guirado, Kevin Ingreso, Paul Mulders, Patrick Reichelt, Stephan Schrock, Martin Steuble, Jovin Bedic, Dominic Del Rosario, OJ Porteria and Kenshiro Daniels.
Meanwhile, Azkals mainstays Manny Ott and Misagh Bahadoran are excluded because of yellow card suspensions in their previous matches
The PFF said that the training pool would be trimmed down to a final 23-man line-up before the tourney in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The Azkals, currently occupying the third spot in Group H with two wins, a draw and three losses, will face the Uzbeks in their last away game at Bunyodkor Stadium on March 24.
The team will be capping off their campaign in the group stage of the joint qualifiers with a home game against North Korea at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on March 29.
After achieving success against Bahrain, 2-1, and Yemen, 2-0, in their first two games in the competition, the Philippines suffered consecutive defeats in its recent matches.
The Filipino booters absorbed their biggest defeat, 1-5, against Uzbekistan at the Philippine Sports Stadium before eliciting a scoreless draw from the North Koreans in Pyongyang.
The Azkals also suffered a loss to the Bahrainis, 0-2, in their second meeting at the Bahrain National Stadium before falling to the Yemenis, 0-1, in their last game in Manila in November 2015.