BACK from a “working vacation” in his home country of Germany, Philippine Azkal coach Michael Weiss is ready and raring to bring most of his locally-based charges to the US training camp “to give the best preparation we can give them.”
“It’s not the situation that we want but we have to do what we can,” said Weiss of the national men’s football team’s Aug. 3-17 stint in the US featuring tune-up games against the United States Soccer League squad Chicago Inferno and the US Virgin Islands side.
Due to their club commitments, virtually all of the European-based Azkals won’t make it to the opening camp of the Nationals since they finished a surprise third in the AFC Challenge Cup last March in Nepal.
Among those who won’t be available are regular Fil-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, defenders Jerry Lucena, Dennis Cagara, Ray Jonnson, Rob Gier midfielders Paul Mulders, Jason de Jong, Manny Ott and and Stefan Schrock.
Also missing the camp are the Younghusband siblings, Phil and James, who have local commitments, but they said they would be available for the national team’s friendlies starting in early September.
Fil-German striker Denis Wolf and Fil-German midfielder Patrick Reichelt, Fil-Italian midfielder Marwin Angeles, who all have signed up with UFL squad FC Global, and team skipper Aly Borromeo, back in harness after undergoing ACL surgery on his right knee, will go with the Nationals.
Weiss said US-based Fil-Brit midfielder Chris Greatwich will join the team in training camp.
While in Germany, Weiss got in touch with the younger brother of Manny Ott, Mike, a 17-year-old striker who is being groomed by German Second Division 1860 Munich.
He added the tune-up games will be on Aug. 8 against the Chicago Inferno and Aug. 15 against the US Virgin Islands.
Weiss said the Philippine contingent will call Wheaton College, an evangelical educational institution located in Chicago, Illinois, as its home during the training camp.
National team manager Dan Palami, who will also join the team, said due to miscommunication, the Azkals will no longer compete in the Nehru Cup in India but will have three friendlies against Cambodia, Laos and Singapore in early September.
“We play Cambodia on Sept. 5, Singapore on Sept. 7 and Laos on Sept. 9,” he said.
Laos and Cambodia are bracketed in the qualifying stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup kicking off in Myanmar in October while Singapore is in Group B of the main draw of tournament starting in late November in Bangkok, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Filipinos are bidding to surpass their surprise semifinal finish in the Suzuki Cup, the Southeast Asian men’s football championship, two years ago that ushered in the country’s soccer revival.