AN eight-day training stint in Japan from Oct. 23 to 31 will get the Philippine national under-23 football team ready for the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.
Coach Hans Michael Weiss said that the preparations for the national team will have to be hastened now that organizers in Indonesia have moved the schedule of matches from Nov. 7 to an earlier date (Nov. 3).
The Philippines is expected to have a lighter schedule in the SEA Games football competition after the team was put in Group B during Wednesday’s drawing of lots in Jakarta.
The Filipinos are bracketed with last year’s runner-up Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Timor Leste and Myanmar.
Defending champion Malaysia is in a tougher bracket (Group A), along with Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia.
“We want to give the players international exposure and have them experience games against university and high school teams in Japan, so that they are prepared for tougher games in Indonesia,” explained Weiss.
The camp in Japan will be in Gotemba, the same venue the Philippines utilized when they prepared for the AFC Challenge Cup playoff match against Mongolia.
Weiss will bring a 30-man squad to Gotemba, but a final cut of 20 will see action in the SEA Games.
Among the players expected to make the cut are Fil-German goalkeeper Roland Muller, Manny Ott, Mark Drinkuth, Patrick Hinrichsen and Jeff Christiaens.
Neckson Leonora is among the local players who could make the grade, along with Lemuel Unabia, Raymark Fernandez, David Basa, Paolo Pascual and Joshua Beloya. Peter Atencio
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