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2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers: Azkals' 23-man roster released

March 18, 2013 2:36pm

Ahead of the Challenge Cup Qualifiers against Brunei, Cambodia, and Turkmenistan starting in under a week’s time, the Philippine National Football Team has released their 23-man line-up for the three games.

Via the official Azkals website, the list sees few surprises as ten Pinoys playing in Europe come in to swell the ranks of the UFL-based players.

Ian Araneta has been dropped in place of 17-year-old OJ Porteria, after his dazzling displays for Kaya, while Coach Weiss will have the headache of selecting between Roland Muller and Neil Etheridge in goal, with Etheridge banned for the first game for shouting profanities, while on the bench during the 4-3 victory over Palestine, in the battle for third place last year, but he will be available for the other two matches.
Here’s the 23-man line-up for the qualifiers:

Neil Etheridge
Roland Muller
Ed Sacapano

Dennis Cagara
Rob Gier
Juan Luis Guirado
Carli De Murga
Jerry Lucena

Marwin Angeles
Misagh Bahadoran
Chieffy Caligdong
Jeffrey Christiaens
Jason De Jong
Chris Greatwich
Angel Guirado
Paul Mulders
Patrick Reichelt
Stephan Schrock
Matthew Uy
James Younghusband

Javier Patino
OJ Porteria
Phil Younghusband

The Azkals’ pattern

There is also the question of what formation the team will employ, whether the 4-5-1 formation that Weiss has used in the Suzuki Cup will be retained, if he'll opt for a more offensive formation, partnering Phil Younghusband and Javier Patino together, or even pushing the wingers higher up the pitch in a 4-2-3-1.
Weiss has talked of being more offensive in these games, as the Azkals have built up a defensive pattern of late. Playing well defensively, the Philippines has kept five clean sheets in their last seven games, but this has also come at the cost of goals as they have scored just six in those seven.

For the last nine games also, the Philippines has never even scored in the opening 45-minutes, and so have never won a first half. After the break however, the Azkals are unbeaten in that second 45-minute period, even against Thailand, when they were 2-0 down at halftime, with a Paul Mulders’ goal as consolation in a 2-1 loss in the group stage of the Suzuki Cup.

Against weaker opposition in Cambodia and Brunei however, that pattern will have to change as the Philippines looks to win big against South East Asian opposition to rack up the all-important goal difference. Scoring in the first half will be crucial to that confidence and building a good goal difference ahead of that final grudge match with Turkmenistan, the side which knocked them out of the 2012 Challenge Cup semifinals, with two late goals reversing a Phil Younghusband opener.  

Starting line-up

With most positions nailed down, according to Mike Limpag, who spoke to manager Dan Palami, the last remaining piece of the puzzle is at left midfield, a position Chieffy Caligdong held until recent performances from the bench.

Angel Guirado looks the frontrunner at left wing and will probably start, despite not playing competitive football since his contract with Indian side Salgaoar SC was terminated. However Jeffrey Christiaens has been lighting up the UFL from the left, contributing to Global’s winning start with four goals and many assists in six games, in performances which deserve an opportunity, especially against Brunei or Cambodia.

So Angel Guirado may be the favorite to start at left wing, and Phil Younghusband will likely be partnered with Javier Patino in a 4-4-2 formation with Jerry Lucena falling back to central defense in place of Juani Guriado.

However, here is the line-up and formation this writer would like to see against Brunei:

Carli De Murga        Rob Gier        Juani Guirado        Dennis Cagara
Jerry Lucena        Stephan Schrock
Patrick Reichelt                 Paul Mulders            Jeffrey Christiaens
    Javier Patino

- AMD, GMA News
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