By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)
The Philippine Azkals turn up the heat in their preparations for their March 15 AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match with Mongolia, bracing up for the possibility of playing minus some key players in the second leg.
Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who is currently in London, is doubtful for the away game due to his commitment with Fulham FC, the same with fellow Fil-foreigners Rob Gier and Simon and Chris Greatwich.
But the Phl squad, which beat Mongolia in the first leg, 2-0, remains upbeat it can make do with what’s available and complete the job against the Blue Wolves.
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss said he will utilize the available arsenal at his disposal. “The ones who are here will do the job. We just need to make a few adjustments especially with the goalkeeper,” he said.
With Etheridge participation still in question, Weiss is preparing substitutes Edward Sacapano, Christopher Camca and Paolo Pascual to possibly fill-in the Fil-Briton’s big shoes.
With three weeks left before their second leg with Mongolia on hostile ground, Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo admitted they still don’t have a clear idea who among the foreign-based Azkals will be able to join the team.
Hans Michael Weiss “We’re just working on what we have right now and I think the local guys can handle Mongolia. Then hopefully we can have all the guys back if we make it (past Mongolia and qualify) to (the group stages set later in) Myanmar,” Borromeo said after yesterday’s practice at Brent in Baguio,
The Azkals played one tune-up, scoring a 9-1 win over Baguio Pinikpikan the other day. They are set to play the Benguet Football Club tomorrow before returning to Manila.