Global Cebu FC striker Paolo Salenga and Ceres Negros FC forward Joshua Dutosme are set to make their debut for the national football team when the Philippines tackles Nepal in a crucial match in the third round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers.
Head coach Thomas Dooley tapped the services of Salenga and Dutosme for the Azkals’ second encounter against the Gorkhalis on November 14 at the ANFA Complex in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.
The unbeaten Philippines is currently atop the Group F table with eight points built on two wins and two draws while Nepal is at the bottom with a lone point on a draw against three losses.
A victory by the Filipino booters in the upcoming all-important tiff will secure the country’s first appearance in the quadrennial tourney.
In their first meeting, the Philippines pounded Nepal, 4-2, to open its Asian Cup campaign with a home win last March 28 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
Global Cebu’s captain Misagh Bahadoran, who missed the away game against Yemen last month, returns to the 23-man lineup off an injury while Kaya FC-Makati midfielder Marwin Angeles comes back to national duty after three years.
Salenga, Dutosme, Bahadoran and Angeles are expected to fill the absence of Manny Ott, Javier Patiño, Amani Aguinaldo and Luke Woodland, who are still nursing their respective injuries.
Dooley also called up Neil Etheridge of Cardiff City FC, Patrick Deyto of Global and Nicholas O’Donnell of Davao Aguilas FC to man the post.
Joining them are longtime national squad stalwarts Phil and James Younghusband, Dylan De Bruycker and Simone Rota of Davao Aguilas, Iain Ramsay, Carli De Murga, Kevin Ingreso and Junior Muñoz of Ceres Negros and Hikaru Minegishi, Paul Mulders and Dennis Villanueva of Global.
Also included in the roster are Curt Dizon of FC Meralco Manila, Fitch Arboleda of Stallion Laguna FC and Sean Patrick Kane of JPV Marikina FC.
Besides goalkeeper Etheridge, striker Mike Ott of Angthong United and defender Daisuke Sato of AC Horsens are also call-ups playing outside the country.