25 February 2011

4 key Azkals may not play

BAGUIO CITY—The prospect of playing the second leg of its AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match against Mongolia minus several key players isn’t putting a dent on the Philippine football team’s confidence.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, defender Rob Gier and midfielders Simon and Chris Greatwich may not be available for the Azkals in the second leg in Ulan Bator, but skipper Aly Borromeo expressed optimism that the squad will still be up to the challenge.

Filipino-Dutch midfielder Jason de Jong will arrive late for the crucial March 15 match since his new club, Persiba Balikpapan, will be playing an Indonesian Super League game two days before the match.

“The ones who are not available I cannot count on them as much as I might regret it,” said the Azkals’ German coach Hans Michael Weiss. “The ones who are here will do the job. We just need to make a few adjustments, especially with the goalkeeper.”

If Etheridge cannot make it, 30-year-old Army keeper Eduard Sacapano would make a rare start for the Azkals.

“It’s quite hard because we still don’t know the composition of the team that’s actually going to Mongolia,” Borromeo told the Inquirer shortly after the team’s training at Brent School grounds here.

“We don’t know if the other guys can make it. We’re just working on what we have, and I think the local guys can handle Mongolia.”

If the Azkals hurdle Mongolia, they will advance to the group stage qualifying in Myanmar against the host country,
Palestine and Bangladesh from March 20 to 31.

Borromeo stressed the importance of identifying a regular starting group for the Mongolia match as soon as possible.

The Azkals overpowered a Baguio selection, 9-1, Wednesday in their first tuneup match since beating Mongolia, 2-0, in the first leg in Bacolod City two weeks ago.



  1. Then we will know who the real football fans are.

  2. As much as I will miss having the other players, I think that if this "mass unavailability" has to happen I'd rather for it to happen now than when they are in Myanmar. This also gives a chance for the other players to earn playing time.

    Yes the Azkals will be considerably weaker but after seeing how the team does against the Mongolians, I think that we don't need a very strong team to at the very least draw with them.

  3. Whoever the players that will be playing on the 2nd leg of AFC Challenge Cup let's continue to pray hard and support the Philippine AZKALS. ONE COUNTRY..ONE TEAM..ONE UNITED SUPPORT!

  4. Then it is time for the other players to step up. Good luck Azkals! We will still support you guys no matter what happens! GodSpeed.

  5. 110% effort and then some, from each and every AZKAL player. The "lesser" boys are stepping up to get'r done. Can't get any better than this. They know what's at stake, will do what it takes. Go on boys, lock and load! Many of these knuckleheads here yapping about their football don't think you "lesser" players can do it. As a competitor when someone tells you that you can't, you want to do EVERYTHING that you can to PROVE THEM WRONG. Show the country what you got boys, they think you have nothing, show them what you got!!!!

    Fair or foul weather, Azkals forever!

  6. You guys (above) are the real fans!

  7. Its okay it will give the players from the bench to prove themselves. as long as we don't loose

  8. to the last anonymous:

    Well, I'm a fan of the sport and of the national team...not of the hot hunks are associated with it. haha

  9. To the person who says we dont need a strong team to get a draw. Well, did you forget the huge factor that will play a huge difference? Its not the players, but its the weather. Even the best club teams in the world like Real Madrid, Barcelona etc from southern europe have problems playing north in europe against weaker team because of the cold weather. Mongolians will definetly have an advantage, and preparing in baguio or even japan wont help that much to be honest. The team needs to play their hearts out. This 2nd leg game will be very difficult. And to be honest, they didnt do a good job on homefield, the azkals. 5-0 wouldve been a lot better than 2-0.

  10. to the anonymous before me:
    Weather is indeed a big factor, but it would seem that your argument is pointless and makes no sense because if it is really the weather that plays a huge factor, then having a strong team will not matter as much.

    I think that if Weiss says the Azkals are ready for a subzero match, or on the way to being so, then one is inclined to believe him. There is a reason why he is the coach and we are just fans.

  11. I don't expect de Jong to be a starter this game since he will arrive late, and did not participate in the acclimatisation training camps.

    Yes he kinda arrived late during the first leg, but this time the conditions are different.

  12. Nah... De Jong is kinda Irreplaceable in the Azkals Team. Gener is the only that is utility player. but De Jong is the Defensive midfielder. the one that will get balls and will be the anchor of the team. He will start , Unless his conditioning is poor. !

  13. My argument is pointless and makes no sense? Haha have you ever played in minus 15 degrees? It might even get colder. Real Madrid can go to Scandinavia and play a much weaker opponent and not as cold conditions, but still on the negative scale, and they struggle to play well and often get a draw or sometimes loose. Same happens with italian teams. Same with english teams. Cold weather plus homefield advantage will play a huge difference against the azkals, and the fact that our boys only won 2-0, it will be definetly be a tough match for the azkals. Try playing in minus 15 degrees celsius, ive done it for years and i know it can be the difference. And the fact that the best players cant play, then im not going to take a win or a draw for granted. Dont always trust a coaches word or the managers. Do you even pay attention to what high profiled coaches say? The conditions will be a schock for the guys, no doubt about that. A strong team wouldve made me worry less, but the fact is that we dont have a strong team without the regulars. Simon, the former coach was pretty much useless and didnt do much to help the team, and this is coming from 80% of the players plus management, so dont completly trust a coaches word.

    So if you still dont understand, cold weather, plus that theyre playing away, and the lack of the best players, then its advantage to mongolia. weather isnt the main factor, but its everything combined. youre not ready for a subzero match just because you went to mild baguio. he is just saying that so fans wont get worried.