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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Veterans to reinforce Azkals in FIFA World Cup qualifiers

The veterans are back and will be with the Philippine Azkals National Men’s Team in the first two matches of the FIFA World Cup 2026/Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers Round 2.

Fil-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will be around when the Azkals meet Vietnam on Nov. 16 and Indonesia on Nov. 21 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

Joining Etheridge in the 26-man lineup that coach Hans Michael Weiss has assembled are Manny Ott, Patrick Reichelt, Mike Ott, Kenshiro Daniels, OJ Porteria, and Daisuke Sato.

“It’s a good mixture of experienced mainstays for a long time and young well-developing talents brought on by the recent performances of Philippine clubs in AFC competitions,” said Weiss.

The Azkals’ mentor said he chose his players based availability as well as their performance in the last five FIFA International Friendly matches against Nepal, Chinese Taipei, Afghanistan, and Bahrain from June to October 2023.

Among the other players chosen were Kevin Hansen, Patrick Deyto, Simone Rota, Carlos de Murga, Jefferson Tabinas, Christian Rontini, Jesse Thomas Curran, Daisuke Sato and Santiago Publico.

Philippine Football Federation secretary general Coco Torre hopes that the Azkals’ coming campaign will bring back the crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, with their #StandYourGround campaign.

“We hope that this will encourage a lot of supports for the team, said Torre.

Weiss said that with a big support coming from the fans, this will give the squad reason to be optimistic for “our first World Cup qualifier matches against Vietnam and Indonesia.”

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