By Jerome Galunan Jr.
Aimed at defending the crown they won last year at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the Philippine Azkals will be fielding one of its strongest line-ups in the 2013 Peace Cup Football Tournament on October 11, 13 and 15 at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Azkals, which ranked 141 in Fifa, is set to arrive on October 8 to prepare against visiting teams from Pakistan (170) and Chinese Taipei (175) in this AFC-sanctioned tourney.
Richard “Ebong” Joson, PFF Head of Marketing and Communications Department, disclosed that since the tournament fell under the Fifa calendar, the national squad has able to recall its foreign-based players in order to come up with a strong team to defend its title.
“Unfortunately, one of our Azkals’ strikers Fil-Spanish Javier Patino won’t make it because of an injury,” Joson said.
Heading the Philippine eleven are keepers Neil Etheridge, Negrense Eduard Sacapano and Patrick Deyto; Jerry Barbaso, Rob Gier, Jason de Jong, Jeffrey Christiaens, Dennis Cagara, Patrick Reichelt, Marwin Angeles, Jerry Lucena, Chris Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, Emelio ‘Chieffy’ Caligdong, Paul Mulders, Misagh Bahadoran, Stephan Schrock, OJ Porteria, siblings Juan and Angel Guirado, and Younghusband brothers, James and Phil.
The national squad will try to repeat over Chinese Taipei on October 11 followed by Pakistan on October 15.
Meanwhile, Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, who is also a member of Fifa’s Marketing and Television Committee, foresees a jam-packed Panaad crowd as Bacolodnons and Negrenses are known football fanatics.
“We know football and we have a deep passion for the game. We are just as synonymous with football as we are with MassKara,” Puentevella said.
Local football fans are likewise encouraged to go out and support the national squad as they bring pride and honor to the country.
In 2011, Negrense football fanatics joined the entire Filipino nation when they flocked at the Panaad Park and Stadium and be counted among the 25,000 spectators who filled the jam-packed sports facility./