MANILA, Philippines - New recruits will beef up the Philippine Azkals for their bid in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers beginning next month.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said Ian Ramsey, Stephen Palla, Kevin Ingreso, and Luke Woodland, along with comebacking Stephan Schrock and Javier Patiño, will start arriving June 1 for Phl XI’s training camp.
The Azkals will host Bahrain on June 11 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan to commence their campaign in the home-and-away, double round-robin Group H preliminaries. Five days later, they will play Yemen in an away game to be staged in Doha, Qatar.
“We’ll have Schrock and Ian Ramsey, who are quick, good shots, and with good dribbling. That’s what we need on the wing. Up front, (there’s) Javier. We need somebody who can score with one touch. In the midfield, we got Palla, who is experienced and can bring something on the right side. Like Ramsey, he plays leftback but is a forward with a good offensive mind, so that’s perfect,” said Dooley.
“We have young guys like Ingreso and Woodland from good European backgrounds who are coming over and we’ll see how they play,” he added.
Dooley has less than two weeks to whip the holdovers and the new recruits into shape for the first two matches.
“Is it enough (training period)? I’m always positive, yeah. I will try to work with the players as much as possible, to give them as much information about the opponents and confidence (to go up against the rivals). If everybody brings 100 percent, we’ll have a chance,” he said.
The Azkals face tall odds against groupmates Bahrain, Yemen, North Korea and Uzbekistan in the second round of the qualifiers.
“We have a really tough group. We’re totally the underdogs and it would be very difficult. With the team we have, there’s something positive but again we have to be on our toes, we have to perform 100 percent,” said the former US World Cup team captain.