MANILA, Philippines – Team manager Dan Palami is hoping that the Filipino-foreign Azkals players will be allowed by their mother clubs to join the 2012 Challenge Cup.
Palami said the inclusion of Filipino-German Stephan Schrock, Filipino-Dutch Paul Mulders, Filipino-British Neil Etheridge and Filipino-Danish Jerry Lucena in the Azkals’ line-up will definitely boost their chances in the upcoming tournament.
However, Palami admitted that the mother clubs cannot be forced to release these key Azkals players because the Challenge Cup is not included in FIFA’s playing calendar.
“We're still hoping that their clubs will release them,” said Palami.
“It's unfortunate that at the level we're in right now, hindi pa covered ng FIFA tournaments ang nasasalihan natin and therefore, the clubs are not obliged to release their players,” he added.
Lucena and Etheridge won’t be able to join the Azkals because of their commitments with their respective clubs.
Lucena plays for Danish Superliga’s AGF Aarhus while Etheridge is a goal keeper for Fulham FC.
“We're still hoping that players like Stephan Schrock, Paul Mulders, Ray Jonsson, Dennis Cagara will be able to join us, so we'll have a stronger team in the Challenge Cup,” said Palami.
The rest of the Azkals are currently training in the United Arab Emirates, where they will play against 3 strong teams.
They will first face the Uzbekistan Olympic team on Saturday, after which they will play against Qatar Star League First Division. Their final game in UAE will be against Qantas Australia Under-23.
Already in the lineup are veterans Phil and James Younghusband, Rob Gier, Ian Araneta, Angel Guirado, Roel Gener, and Misagh Bahadoran, Jason Sabio, Lexton Moy, Joshua Beloya, Carli de Murga, Paolo Pascual, Marwin Angeles, Ruben Doctora, Fil-Spanish Angel Guirado, and Fil-German striker Denis Wolf.