Azkals healthy, complete

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 08 2012 01:10 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2012 09:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals expect a near full-strength squad for their Middle East training camp and friendlies against Bahrain and Kuwait, with Europe-based pros and the Younghusband brothers beefing up the side that ruled the recent Philippine Football Peace Cup.

Fil-Danish Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, Fil-Dutch Paul Mulders, Fil-German Roland Muller, and Fil-Icelandic Ray Jonsson are slated to meet up in Dubai with the local-based Azkals led by Chieffy Caligdong, Carli de Murga, Denis Wolf, Jeff Christiaens and Patrick Reichelt for their Oct. 7-17 Gulf gig.

Phil and James Younghusband, who were not called up for the Peace Cup campaign, will rejoin the PH XI team that is slated to mix it up with Bahrain on Oct. 12 and Kuwait on Oct. 16 as part of preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

"The Peace Cup was meant to be a testing ground for local-based Azkals. Now we take it a notch higher by mixing that with professionals in Europe and form a stronger team. Hopefully we get the right mix just in time for the Suzuki Cup," Azkals manager Dan Palami said during the recent launch of Global FC's programs.

Azkals coach Michael Weiss has called up 26 players for the Middle East camp, including new Fil-Am recruits Demit Omphroy and Matthew Uy, and the Guirado brothers, Angel and Juani.

About 90 percent of the players, according to Palami, has confirmed participation in the trip on the eve of their departure, including Phil and James who had already formally told management they were accepting the call-up.

Palami also sees no problem with local clubs as the United Football League has a standing agreement with the Philippine Football Federation for the release of players for PH team during Fifa friendlies.

Palami's own club, UFL champ Global FC, is lending a number of players to the Azkals like Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles, Reichelt, and latest additions Wolf, Omphroy and Uy.

"It has always been a big problem for Global every time we have players leave for the national team duty but our contribution to country comes first before the club," said Palami as he also announced the club's plans to hold international training camps and friendly matches against foreign clubs and establish Global FC Academy intended to be a "hub of excellence."

Global FC has tapped Hinko of One Above Management, a UK-based sports consultancy firm to help achieve these goals and at the same time “professionalize” the structure of the club similar to big clubs all over Europe.