By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines could end its long wait for a men’s football medal in the Southeast Asian Games late this year in Indonesia.
Dan Palami, the Azkals manager who also serves as chair of the national teams’ committee of the Philippine Football Federation, is confident that the Under-23 squad in the SEA Games will put up a creditable performance.
“So far, we achieved what we set our sights on, like in the AFF Suzuki Cup and in the AFC Challenge Cup,” said Palami, who bankrolled the national team when support was hard to come by two years ago. “I hope our luck will continue and our success is tangible when it comes to the medal.”
Some members of the senior team are eligible for the SEA Games including goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, Yannick Tuason, David Basa, Jason de Jong and Manny Ott.
The standouts from the ongoing Suzuki Cup Under-23 Championship will also be considered for team.
Several more prospects have emerged for the Under-23 side after Azkals coach Michael Weiss scouted players with Filipino lineage in Germany during the Nagold Blitz Football Tournament last week and Azkals captain Aly Borromeo and Anton Del Rosario held tryouts in Daly City, California early this month.
The Philippine team finished second in the four-team tournament, finishing with a win, a draw and a loss against Under-19 squads from Stuttgart, Reutlingen and Nagold.
Weiss said among the standout players were Patrick Reichelt, a striker from the Cottbus second team, who scored five goals in the tournament, and central defender Oliver Poetschke. Also impressing Weiss was Kevin Ingreso, the skipper of Hamburg’s Under-19 squad.
“I might invite them to come to Manila to our camp,” Weiss said in an e-mail.
Del Rosario said the players that impressed in the US tryouts that could beef up the Under-23 squad were OJ Porteria and James Rochilitz.