05 May 2021

Neil Etheridge committed to Azkals duties despite busy summer, says Cooper


THE stint of Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge in the coming 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers next month is uncertain due to personal commitments that include his upcoming wedding.

Azkals head coach Scott Cooper said Etheridge has expressed his desire to be part of the national squad for next month’s competition to be held in China in June under a bubble set-up.

However, Cooper also bared Etheridge’s busy schedule in the coming months.

“Neil is eligible. He is wanting to come,” said Cooper during Wednesday’s virtual press conference hosted by the Philippine Football Federation.

“He is just getting his passport renewed at this moment. Of course, Neil is getting married this summer right around the middle part of that. He is going to be with us to start off, then let’s see where it goes,” Cooper said.

Etheridge, considered as one of the best goalkeepers in Southeast Asia, played for the Azkals in their last three matches including a clean sheet in a scoreless draw against China on October 15, 2019.

This year, Etheridge played for Birmingham City in the English Football League Championship.


PH Azkals to set up training camp in Qatar


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Azkals are set for a training camp in Qatar as part of their preparations for the Joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asia Cup qualifiers in China next month.

The camp, which will be hosted by the Qatar Football Association, will be held from May 18-31 in Doha before heading to Suzhou, China.

“We have communicated with the Qatar Football Association to host our team for a training camp in Qatar,” said Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta during a virtual presser on Wednesday. “As you know very well, it’s so hard to train in the Philippines right now. so we have decided to do the training camp in Qatar.”

The Azkals will be comprised of a 26-man pool in Doha, according to team manager Dan Palami.

The team is also slated to play friendlies against Palestine and Syria during the camp.

“We’re lucky other teams are there also so we can have the friendly matches before we go to China,” Araneta said. “And China is also arranging for the flights of the Group A teams to emanate from Qatar so ideally, we should be in Qatar doing the training camp.”
The Azkals, who are currently third in Group A with seven points, will face Guam, host China and Maldives in the centralized bubble.

Read more: https://sports.inquirer.net/422327/ph-azkals-to-set-up-training-camp-in-qatar#ixzz6u0DUI4wx

27 April 2021

PFF eyes Azkals bubble buildup



A three-week bubble training camp in Carmona, Cavite, is on the pipeline for the Philippine Azkals as it prepares to compete in the resumption of hostilities of the FIFA World Cup in late-May, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) said yesterday.

PFF chief Mariano ‘Nonong’ Araneta said the PFF national training center is ready to host the squad.

“We can do bubble training in Carmona. We’re looking at around three weeks of training then they will go to China,” said Araneta, who was also appointed as the country’s chief of mission for the Tokyo Olympics in July.
Since the surge of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the national squad has not been able to compete in the international stage.

In fact, its last appearance was more than a year ago, when it competed in the Southeast Asian Games last 2019.

If the PFF plans push through, Araneta said that they are targeting to send the athletes to China on 29 May, just in time for the resumption of the competition.


13 April 2021

Kaya FC-Iloilo beefs its frontline with the signing of Patrick Asare

 Kaya FC-Iloilo completed its foreign lineup with the signing of Ghanian forward Patrick Asare for the upcoming domestic and international campaigns this season.

The forward, who hails from Accra, Ghana, had a storied career before joining Kaya. He started out playing for youth teams in Ghana’s youth leagues until an opportunity to play in Malaysia came for the forward.

The opportunity did note come for Asare at the time, but the setback did not deter him. In 2014, he took a degree in Sports Management with a focus on Football Studies. At the same time football came knocking back to Asare, signing for Myanmar clubs Zwekapin United, Yadanarbon FC, and Shan United FC.

After his stint in Myanmar, Asare continued his studies, while playing in Malaysia for third division clubs, until 2020 finishing with a Masters degree in Psychology for Coaching. With his studies done, he has set his sights on his return to professional football with the Philippines as his third Southeast Asian country to play for and Kaya as his latest club.

Asare completes the five-man foreign contingent for Kaya together with veteran Masanari Omura, midfielder Daizo Horikoshi, defender Carlye Mitchell, and fellow new signing Ryo Fujii.


31 March 2021

Jason Withe named United City FC head coach

 2020 Philippines Football League champions United City FC have signed veteran coach Jason Withe to be the club’s head coach for the 2021 season.

“We are proud to announce the addition of Jason Withe, a UEFA Pro License holder, to work alongside Frank Muescan & playing-coach Stephan Schrock during the AFC Champions League group stages in June/July,” read the club’s statement on their official Facebook account.

Withe’s signing brings a wealth of experience to the reigning Philippines Football League champions ahead of the AFC Champions League group stages this June. The English coach started his playing career with West Bromwich Albion and went on to play for several clubs in Finland and in England before moving on to coaching.

As head coach, he has earned a wide grasp of the ASEAN football scene with stints in Thailand, where he won the Thai Premier League and FA Cup double with BEC Tero Sasana in 2000, Singapore, with Home United, and Indonesia, with Pestebola Merdeka.

His time in Southeast Asia also saw him serve as assistant head coach for both the Thailand and Indonesian national teams, as well as club director for Sukhothai FC, which claimed the Thai FA Cup in 2016.

Withe has already experienced coaching a team in the AFC Champions League having led Sukhothai FC in their 2017 AFC Champions League play-off campaign.

Withe is expected to lead the club to domestic and international glory alongside Frank Muescan , who returns to the club as assistant coach and team captain Stephan Schrock who will be the playing coach.


27 March 2021

Philippines Football League Season 2021 sets July 17 kickoff date

 The Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways is scheduled to kickoff on 17 July 2021.

The PFL’s 2021 season was supposed to begin with the Copa Paulino Alcantara from April to May 2021 under a bubble format, but rising COVID-19 cases in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region and surrounding areas has prompted the league to defer the holding of the Cup for the second straight year and push back the start of the season.

In deciding on the new kickoff date, the PFL also took into consideration the international window on June 2021 when the men’s national team competes in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in China as well as the AFC Champions League play-off and group stage where PFL clubs Kaya FC-Iloilo and United City FC will be competing.

“The (Copa Paulino Alcantara) will not push through this year because of the current situation,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta, Jr. “We decided that we will proceed with the league by 17 July when we have the vaccines rolled out already.”

The PFF has already communicated the league kickoff date to title sponsor Qatar Airways and the participating clubs so they can plan accordingly ahead for the season.

“We understand the situation the clubs are facing during these challenging times,” added PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes. “With a scheduled kickoff date of 17 July, the clubs will be able to plan  accordingly for another exciting PFL season.”

Part of the PFF’s plan to restart competition is to spend for the vaccines for the players and officials.

“The players are welcome to be vaccinated as it is protection with them,” added Araneta. “We’re giving them a choice as PFF will be spending for the vaccines. I’m confident that they will accept these vaccines.”

The league is also targeting an increase in the number of matches for this year with 28 to 84 matches being proposed to the clubs, which is also on the verge of expansion from six to eight teams.

“Last year, clubs were only able to play five matches in the bubble season,” said PFL Commissioner Coco Torre. “With the vaccine set to roll out this year, we look forward to giving the clubs more competitive matches to keep the players physically fit, which will benefit our clubs participating at the domestic level, international competitions, and our national team.”


21 March 2021

Nazari brothers and Hartmann sign for champs United City

 MANILA (18 March 2021) – Defending champions United City FC have significantly bolstered their squad ahead of the 2021 Philippines Football League (PFL) brought to you by Qatar Airways by signing brothers Omid and Amin Nazari and also striker Mark Hartmann for the new season.

The signing of both Omid Nazari and Hartmann marks the pair’s return to the club after stints in Indonesia and Thailand respectively.

Omid, who played for Persib Bandung in Indonesia, was part of the Ceres-Negros side that lifted the league title in 2017 and 2018, while Hartmann, who played for Petaling Jaya City FC and UiTM, had a brief stint with the club last year during the AFC Champions League preliminary round run.

Meanwhile, it will be Amin Nazari’s first foray in the Philippine club football setting.

Before being called up to the national team in 2018, he had playing stints for Swedish side Malmo FF and Finnish club IFK Mariehamn. He went on to play in Thailand for Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC and Malaysia for Kedah FA in the last two years.

The three are among the club’s newest signings ahead of the start of competition.

Also joining the club as new signings are former Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC defender Jonny Campbell, Kieran Hayes, Andreas Esswein, Ryan Jarvis, William Grierson, and former Mendiola FC goalkeeper Kenry Balobo.

The 2020 PFL champions also announced the return of captain Stephan Schrock, forward Bienvenido Marañon, and midfielder Mike Ott to the squad last week in preparation for the upcoming season.