MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine men’s national football team’s line-up for the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup will not be finalized until early November as head coach Hans Michael Weiss waits for the final word on the availability of their Europe-based players.
Speaking with the Suzuki Cup website, Weiss revealed that he is still unsure who among the Europe-based players can suit for the Azkals for the biennial tournament.
“Right now, we can’t say which one is coming. We’ll have to wait until the beginning of November, even before we have the final answer,” Weiss said.
The Azkals are aiming to repeat their stunning performance in the 2010 tournament, when they reached the semi-finals and upset then-champions Vietnam to kick off a football frenzy in the Philippines.
To achieve this, the team's management is hoping to secure the release of their Europe-based players, including goalkeepers Roland Muller and Neil Etheridge, and midfielder Paul Mulders.
“I’m now almost certain we’ll have a keeper, that will almost be definite. If Roland Muller continues to be No. 2 (with MSV Duisburg), he’ll most definitely come. And (if) Neil will not be on loan and if he continues to be third choice for Fulham, he’ll also be around,” Weiss said.
“Ray Jonsson will be there. Jerry Lucena, most likely. The same with Paul Mulders. We have to work for the release of Dennis Cagara,” he added.
But Weiss is less optimistic that they can secure the release of Fil-German midfielder Stephan Schrock, who provided a masterful performance in the Azkals’ 2-0 victory over the Singapore Lions last Saturday.
Schrock currently plays for Bundelisga side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Weiss admitted it will be less likely that the talented playmaker can suit up for the Philippines.
“Schrock’s case will be difficult because of the schedule of his club,” Weiss said.
Schrock himself said the possibility of him playing in the Suzuki Cup is “slim.”
“Joining in November is hard. I don’t know if I can come because in that week, our club plays three times in Germany. So the possibility is slim, about one percent,” Schrock said.
“If in time, something can be arranged, I’d like to join the team in November but if not, I’d stay in Germany,” he added.
The Azkals are currently playing a series of friendly to help in their preparation for the Suzuki Cup. They drew with Cambodia, 0-0, last week before beating Singapore.
They will play Laos tonight in the last leg of their three-nation tour.