The Philippines men's national football team on Saturday unveiled their 27-man lineup for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 set in Singapore beginning December 5.
Captain Stephan Schröck will spearhead the team that also includes veterans Patrick Reichelt, Mike Ott, Martin Steuble, Angel Guirado and Kenshiro Daniels.
Also returning are Amani Aguinaldo, Kevin Ingreso, Iain Ramsay, Daisuke Sato, Jeff Tabinas, Mar Vincent Diano and goalkeepers Bernd Schipmann and Kevin Ray Mendoza.
The team will also bring in the young ones in Oliver Bias, Justin Baas, Dennis Chung, Oskari Kekkonen, Sandro Reyes, Christian Rontini and goalkeeper Quincy Kameraad are also in the squad.
Naturalized striker Bienvenido Marañon will also be making his national team debut, just like Sweden-based defender Jesper Nyholm, Amin Nazari, Matthew Custodio and Harry Foll.
“This is a very prestigious tournament,” said Azkals coach Scott Cooper on the team website. “We have a history of doing well and going to the semifinals, but we need to do more than that.
“We have to look at the last Suzuki Cup (in 2018) and that half of that schedule, was in the FIFA calendar. For this tournament, we have so many players unavailable and most of them were unable to be released by their clubs. We don’t have that luxury as other countries so we’re hoping that organizers look at the calendar in the future.”
Azkals team manager Dan Palami acknowledged the buildup to the tournament has been far from ideal with players based in different parts of the world and still playing for their clubs with less than two weeks before the actual tournament.
Some of the key players are also injured.
The Azkals will have to miss some of their reliables such as Gerrit Holtmann, Patrick Strauss, Raphael Obermair, Michael Kempter and Neil Etheridge, who are all tied up with their respective clubs.
Other players who were unable to secure a release from their clubs are Josh Grommen, Patrick Deyto and Randy Schneider.
Also missing the Suzuki Cup due to injuries are Jarvey Gayoso, Manny Ott, Carlie De Murga, brothers Michael and Matthew Baldissimo, Sebastian Rasmussen and Adrian Ugelvik.
Javier Patiño and Michael Falkesgaard have also retired from national team duties.
“We have to deal with the situation,” said Palami. “I think now more than ever, the team will have to summon the never-say-die spirit that Filipinos are known for.”
“It’s extremely difficult hence we have to temper our expectations,” said Cooper. “We have a nice squad and we have a new addition in Jesper Nyholm, whose season is finally finished, so we can bring him in and there’s couple of new faces coming in.”