National team bosses Scott Cooper and Goran Milojevic has called up Filipino players to suit up for the National team fixtures on Nov 14 and 19 as the Azkals plays against Maldives and Syria for the second group stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The chosen 23 “Azkals”, who ply their trade in the top leagues of Europe and Asia are expected to suit up for their first match for the window in Maldives, followed by a neutral ground match in UAE are led by recently awarded ASEAN top midfielder and Ceres Negros icon Stephan Schrock.
The English Championship side Cardiff City FC 2019 Player of the season Neil Etheridge is the top name on the posts, although expect tough competition on the starting nod from another Player of the year, Michael Falkesgaard from the Thai Premier side Bangkok United. Another Thai League mainstay also gets an invite, Patrick Deyto comes back to the National team set-up after proving his worth for Suphanburi FC.
On the Defender list, 10 players are called, and most of them have once played in the PFL. Ceres Negros players Carli De Murga and Sean Kane are called up alongside Martin Steuble from the recently awarded Thai Cup champs Port FC. Other players playing in the Thai League are star left back Daisuke Sato of Muangthong FC and center backs Alvaro Silva (Suphanburi) and Marco Casambre (Chainat Hornbill). Amani Aguinaldo of PNKP FC and Luke Woodland of Kuala Lumpur FC joins us after impressing in Malaysia. Youngsters Justin Baas of Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar and Philippines U-22 Edison Suerti of Norwegian club Brattvag IL gets the nod and will challenge the senior players for a spot on the defensive line.
Aside from Schrock in the midfield, Mike Ott comes in from PFL Champions Ceres FC. Thai League based players Iain Ramsay (Sukhothai FC) and Angel Guirado (Chonburi FC) are suiting up along with John-Patrick Strauss of German 2.Bundesliga side Erzgebirge Aue and Yrick Gallantes, the eighteen-year-old prodigy from Scottish Premier side Hibernian FC, who has proven his worth in the recent Copa Paulino Alcantara for the Philippine U-22 team.
Malaysian Super League side Melaka United’s top scorer Patrick Reichelt comes back to the National team set-up, along with OJ Porteria of Ceres, Mark Hartmann of Thai club “Swat Cats”, and Curt Dizon of Chonburi.
The Azkals will face the 154th ranked Maldividian side on Thursday in Male at the Rhasmee Dhandu National Stadium. Our last match against them was a 2-0 win at the Rizal stadium last March 9, 2015. After which, the team flies to Dubai where they play the 94th ranked Syrians at the Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai. Our last game against them was a 2-5 loss at home in Panaad.
The Syrians are currently top in Group A with 3 wins (9 points), while Maldives is at 4th with 1 win (3 points). Currently, the Azkals are on third with 4 points after a win in Guam who are ranked 5th and a draw at home against 2nd seed China.
In the second round of the qualifiers, 40 National teams in the AFC (ranked 1–34 (including Qatar as the World Cup host) and six first round winners) were divided into eight groups of five teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches. The eight group winners and the four best group runners-up advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification as well as qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. Should Qatar finish as winners in their group or as one of the four best runners-up, the fifth-best runners-up will go to the third round.