The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will send the Under-16 boys national team to a training camp in China as part of its preparation for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 Championship this September.
The young Azkals, who are bracketed in Group H along with continental powerhouse teams China and South Korea as well as Southeast Asia neighbor Myanmar, are facing a tough task in the AFC tournament as they need to finish in the top two to advance to the next round.
“The boys are going to China for a camp and I think they will also be participating in a tournament there. After that, when they come back here, we will re-assess the team here,” said PFF President Mariano Araneta.
Araneta added the PFF is planning to recruit some overseas-based players particularly from Europe to boost their chances of winning in the tournament.
Sandro Reyes, the young Filipino booter who was given a five-year scholarship in the training academy of FC Barcelona, might try out for the team, according to the PFF head.
“Some players that are playing in Europe like Sandro Reyes will be going for a tryout for the team in July. We’ll give them a chance to tryout for the team after the preparation in China,” Araneta said.
The Philippines previously bowed out of the tourney after notching only a single victory versus Northern Mariana Islands, 9-2, on top of three losses, to finish No. 4.
Araneta also said that the preparations of the U19 squad got underway with recruitment camps that will roll off in the provinces later this month. But the training schedule of the U19 is yet to be finalized by the PFF and the team management.
“I have yet to discuss the plans of the Under-19 with the coaches,” said Araneta.
The U19 Azkals will be competing in the AFC U19 Championship qualifiers this October and are in Group G together with China, Myanmar and Cambodia.
Also seeing action in an international tourney are the Under-15 girls, which will compete in the Asean Football Federation U15 Girls Championship this month.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES