By Cedelf P. Tupas, Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines—Just hours after appearing in a Senate inquiry in Manila, the national football team touched down here Wednesday night to begin the final stretch of preparations for the game against Mongolia in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying series.
Among those who joined the first wave of arrivals were seven players who were not included in the provisional 31-man lineup but impressed new coach Hans Michael Weiss during tryouts.
With Weiss still waiting for the arrival of several players based abroad, Filipino-Scottish Mark McMahon, keeper Paolo Pascual, winger Aaron Altiche, striker Yannick Tuazon, Italy-raised Albert Frias and former national players Roxy Dorlas and Ricardo Becite were included in the training pool for the February 9 match.
Majority of the players who arrived here where in a Senate hearing in Manila, where it was revealed that members of the squad, known as the Azkals, have been receiving only P4,000 to P6,000 a month for national duties.
“We just hope that the players themselves are the ones taken care of first because we are the ones who put in all the hard work,” said skipper Aly Borromeo, who did not join the flight on Wednesday night.
“Some of us can’t even attend the camp as well as the other players because we have to attend to our jobs,” added Borromeo, who is set to arrive here in the weekend, along with brothers Phil and James Younghusband.
Four players in the Azkals’ starting lineup—Neil Etheridge, Jason de Jong, Rob Gier and Ray Jonnson—are expected on February 6.
Also new player 18 y.o filipino-egyptian from USA, Islam Ahmid is joining the team for Bacolod.