PHL Azkals face China in friendly match; U-22 team plays at Merlion Cup

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The Philippine Azkals are in China to play a friendly game. -- ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION PHOTO

IT WILL BE a busy weekend for Philippine national football teams as they play abroad as part of their preparation for upcoming tournaments.

The men’s seniors team is in China to face its counterpart in a scheduled friendly today in Guangzhou before going to Guangdong Province for a practice match against a local club on June 9.

The Philippine U-22, meanwhile, is in Singapore to compete at the four-team Merlion Cup from June 7 to 9 as it builds up on its preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games which the Philippines is hosting later this year.

The Azkals are using their China training camp for the preliminary joint qualification round 2 for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 later this year.

For the China camp the team brought a total of 24 players to be handled by coach Scott Cooper.

The players are goalkeepers Patrick Deyto, Michael Falkesgaard and Bernd Schipmann; defenders Amani Aguinaldo, Marco Casambre, Stephan Palla, Luke Woodland, Daisuke Sato, and Alvaro Silva.

Also part of the group are midfielders Kevin Ingreso, Mike Ott, Christian Rontini, and Stephan Schrock; forwards Jovin Bedic, Curt Dizon, Patrick Reichelt and Javier Patino.

Foreign-based players invited for the China camp were forwards Kainoa Bailey (USA), Enrique Bernal (Spain), Pancho Fernandez (Chile) and Kristofer Strickler (USA); midfielder Kevin Guerra (Germany); and defenders Diego Bardanca (Poland) and Michael Kempter (Switzerland).

MEN’S U-22
The U-22 team, meanwhile, pits its skills against teams from host Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand at the Merlion Cup.

The Philippine Football Federation called up for duty 22 players for the competition, namely goalkeepers Alex Arcilla and Michael Asong; defenders JM Clarino, Major Dean Ebarle, Pete Andrei Forrosuelo, Viejay Frigilliano, William Grierson, Christian Lapas, Jerome Marzan, Roland Saavedra, Lorenzo Sabado, Jr., JR Saldivar and Ray Vincent Sanciangco; midfielders Jeremiah Borlongan, Joshua Broce, Dylan De Bruycker, Dimitri Limbo, Kyle Magdato and Mariano Suba; and forwards Jarvey Gayoso, Kintaro Miyagi and Shanden Vergara.

Except for Limbo who plays abroad (England), said players were culled from local collegiate leagues and the Philippines Football League.

The team is handled by head coach Andres Gonzales and assisted by Randolofo Clarino, Christopher Pedimonte, and Anthony Albao. Marlon Maro is manager.

“We thank Football Association of Singapore for inviting the Philippines to compete in the Merlion Cup 2019. This tournament is a perfect gauge for the team in their preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games,” said PFF general secretary Edwin Gastanes said in a statement. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo