The Philippines, hoping to build a stronger core of talents, gets a chance to test new players when it visits Indonesia for an international friendly on Aug. 14 at Manahan Stadium in Solo, Central Java.
National team manager Dan Palami hinted at calling up the standouts of the PH Under-23 side to suit up for the Azkals, whose next major tournament won’t come until March next year in the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives.
Among those in the short list of candidates are goalkeeper Patrick Deyto and midfielders Paolo Bugas and Mark Hartmann, who hasn’t played for the national team since September 2011 in the Long Teng Cup.
Deyto, a former La Salle player, is considered one of the best homegrown goalkeepers, while Bugas and Hartmann were impressive for the Under-23 side in its clash with the United Football League All-Stars last month.
“We want to test some new players, who could also help us in the future,” said Palami. “The friendly is a good chance to develop talents.”
The Under-23 players are preparing for the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, although the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission have yet to approve their stint in the biennial games.
Palami said only a couple of Europe-based Azkals—Angel Guirado and defender Rob Gier, who skippered the squad in the 1-0 triumph over Hong Kong last June—will be called up.
It will be the fourth meeting between the Philippines and Indonesia since 2010, when the Azkals made the Suzuki Cup semifinals only to bow to the Mera Putih, 0-2, on aggregate.
The Azkals and Mera Putih battled to a tense 2-2 draw in Manila in June 2012 that saw three players get red cards.
Chieffy Caligdong and Phil and James Younghusband will still lead the Azkals, who have steadily improved their Fifa ranking in the past two years.
The Azkals are now perched at No. 144, the second-ranked team in the region behind Thailand.