MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine under-23 football team kicks off its buildup for the Southeast Asian Games with a friendly against the Singapore U-23 Young Lions on Thursday at Hougang Stadium in Singapore.
To be handled by Global FC’s Scottish coach Brian Reid, the Azkals U-23 will be bannered by Joshua Beloya, the striker is best remembered for scoring a late brace that helped Phl defeat Laos (2-1) in the group stages of the last SEAG in Indonesia, and his teammates in that 2011 campaign, Jinggoy Valmayor, Reymark Fernandez, and Mark Hartmann.
Joining them in the 18-man roster are Matt Uy, Amani Aguinaldo, Ronnie Aguisada, Fitch Arboleda, Paolo Bugas, Patrick Deyto, Neil Dorimon, David Fornea, Carlo Leo Liay, Angelo Marasigan, Nathan Octavio, Marco Poli, Deo Segunial, and Jeremy James Theuer.
Some of the Azkals mainstays based overseas are still eligible for the U-23 team like Fil-German brothers Manny and Mike Ott but according to Dan Palami, head of the Philippine Football Federation’s national teams committee, they opted against bringing them over for this friendly.
“Coach basically wants to gauge the new recruits as they play in a bigger and higher arena,” Palami told The STAR.
He said the Young Lions are expected to offer Phl U-23 a tough test.
“A number of their players are playing in the Malaysian Super League and their team is currently occupying the top spot,” Palami said, referring to Lions XI mainstays Khairulhin Khalid, Neezam Aziz, Syazwan Buhari, Shakir Hamzah, Faris Azienuddin, Madhu Mohana, Nazrul Nazari, Fazli Ayob, Aqhari Abdullah, Izzdin Shafiq, Safirul Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Syafiq Zainal, Randy Pay, Khairul Nizam.
A return match with the U23 Young Lions in the Philippines is also being finalized.
The Phl U-23 team, which is targetting a podium finish in the Myanmar SEA Games, will embark on its road trip over a week after the Azkals’ away friendly in Hong Kong, which was marred by allegations of racial abuse directed at Filipino fans in the stadium.