With the Philippine men’s football team, Azkals, hoping to get a crack in the 2014 FIFA World Cup through a series of qualifiers, the national Under 16 boys youth football squad is getting ready for the Juy 7- 20 ASEAN Football Federation U16 Youth Championship in Vientiane, Laos.
The `Young Azkals’ has been training in Cebu and have been pitted against teams from Dumaguete City, San Carlos City, and yesterday, against Victorias City-based Don Bosco Technical School at the Panaad pitch to polish their skills and strengthen their defense.
The team is composed of 19 players selected from the recent national tryouts conducted by the Philippine Football Federation.
To don the national colors in the AFF Youth Cup in Vientiane are Christian Paul Jover and Phil John Batallones (Don Bosco-Victorias), Ryunell Fegidero (Bacolod), Nessi Ramos (Escalante) and Jhoguev Ybanez (San Carlos).
Also part of the team are: Alfred Nacuna and Brian Romo from Bukidnon; Yves Caballero and Antonio Rafols from Cebu; Renko Gaudiel from Bayawan; Alexis Juan from Davao del Norte, Zaldy Abraham from Iloilo, Jonah Vidal Suares from Laguna; Luis Gabriel Sumera from NCR; Angelo Bahoyan, Joey dela Sierra and Raymund Santillan from Negros Oriental; Skie Carranza (team captain) and Raphael Resuma from RIFA.
The coaching staff is composed of head coach Tomasito Glenn Ramos, assistant coach Jeffrey Liman, and goal keeper coach Joeme Tolosa. Team manager is Alvin Carranza of RIFA and the assistant team manage is Titong Rafols of Cebu.
Meanwhile, high expectations are in the air once again as the Azkals arrived home yesterday for Sunday’s second of their qualifying series for the 2014 World Cup against the Sri Lanka Red Braves at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex field.
The 1-1 draw against the Sri Lankans at Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo the other day, put pressure on the Philippine team even with the presence of new recruits Fil-German pro player Stephan Shrock and Fil-American Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Burkey, who scored the equalizer in Wednesday’s game.
The Azkals will be playing with yellow cards hovering over the heads of Schrock, team captain Aly Borromeo, and James Younghusband. The team is also yet to announce whether star striker Phil Younghusband will be fit enough to play on Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury which prompted coach Michael Weiss to pull him out and replaced him with Burkey.
Earlier touted as an easy prey for the Azkals, the Sri Lankans, instead, showed strong attacking skills in the first leg of the series and engaged the Philippine side with a highly physical game that ended in a draw.*NAB
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