After returning to the national team, brothers Phil and James Younghusband will not suit up for the Azkals in their friendly match on Friday against Bahrain.
Loyola Meralco Sparks president Randy Roxas confirmed to InterAKTV that the brothers are still in Manila and will play in their club’s first game in the United Football League Cup on Thursday against Laos FC after learning that the Philippine Football Federation booked Phil and James’ departure on Friday.
“Yes, they are still here. They were prepared to leave for Bahrain this morning but the PFF made arrangements for them to leave on the 12th,” Roxas said.
Most members of the Azkals left for Bahrain last Sunday for their two-match training tour in the Middle East this October. Phil and James, along with Sparks teammates Ref Cuaresma and Anto Gonzales, initially did not join the flight because of Loyola’s semifinal campaign in the 2012 Singapore Cup on the same day.
But Cuaresma and Gonzales have already arrived in Bahrain, leaving the brothers the only players from the Sparks that are still not with the team.
Reached for comment, neither the PFF nor the Azkals management responded to multiple queries by InterAKTV.
Last September, the Azkals stars were left out of the national roster for the Philippine Football Peace Cup over what the PFF called as “economic and non-economic demands.”
Despite of their absence, the Filipinos still won the crown behind the Azkals’ new faces led by tournament Most Valuable Player Denis Wolf.
After learning about their return to the Azkals lineup, Phil and James said they are “delighted” to be back with the team and look forward to working with the Azkals management regarding schedules.
The Azkals are now in Bahrain to face its national football team on Friday in its capital Manama and Kuwait on October 16 at Kuwait City.
The matches are part of the team’s preparations for the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup on November, where they look to surpass their historic semifinal run in the same tournament two years ago.