THE Philippine Azkals will leave for Kaoshiung, Taiwan today to start their bid in the Long Teng Cup, a four-nation tournament against Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong and Macau, which will start today until Oct. 4.
As a more experienced Philippine squad is being sent this year compared to last year’s, the team will try to improve its third place finish.
Last time around, the squad finished with one win, one draw and one loss. This year, they hope to finally win the title.
The national pool will rely on the leadership of skipper Aly Borromeo with vice captain Emelio Caligdong and other senior players like Phil and James Younghusband, Ian Araneta, Angel Guirado, Roel Gener, Misagh Bahadoran, Jason de Jong and Eduard Sacapano.
There are new faces in the mixed lineup of veterans and youth players released by coach Michael Weiss, including the members of the Under-23 team, which is bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia in November.
Leading the overseas players in the Under-23 training pool is Fil-German goalkeeper Roland Mueller from MSV Duisburg, Fil-Spanish defender Carlos de Murga from Club Portuense and Fil-Belgian Midfielder Jeffrey Christiaens from Torhout KM.
The other Under-23 local players listed are Lemuel Unabia from Negros-Ceres, Reymark Fernandez, Nickson Leonora and Fil-British siblings Mark and Matthew Hartmann, who are both playing for Loyola Meralco Sparks FC.
Kaya FC midfielder Moy Lexton and Oliver Potschke of BFC Preussen Berlin completed the national side lineup.
The Azkals will face the defending champions national team of Hong Kong on their first game on Sept. 30 and they will take on Chinese Taipei on Oct. 2 and last year’s lowest-ranked team Macau on Oct. 4.
They have a scheduled friendly match in Singapore on Oct. 7 before heading home to host an international match against Nepal on Oct. 11 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2011.