The Philippine National Football team, also known as the “Azkals,” has released their 24-man squad for their training camp in the United States. The list sees the return of Chris Greatwich since his appearances in the team’s famed 2010 Suzuki Cup run, while a couple of new faces also make the squad.
The Azkals will first face USL Premier Development League side Chicago Inferno on the eleventh of August, which represents the fourth tier of US football, before taking on the US Virgin Islands, who are currently ranked 177th in the world on the 17th of August. In Philippine time, that means the games will be on August 12 and August 18 respectively.
Return of the Greatwich
With some of the familiar faces of the Azkals not making the trip to the US, most notably the Younghusband brothers, the squad list sees the return of Christopher Greatwich to the Azkals, as well as the inclusion of Matthew Uy and Demit Omphroy.
Chris Greatwich last saw action with the Azkals during their miracle run in the last Suzuki Cup, equalizing in injury time against Singapore and heading in the opener against Vietnam in that surprise 2-0 victory. The midfielder has made 27 appearances for the Azkals, scoring five goals.
Since then, however, the British-born Greatwich has migrated to the US and is the head coach of amateur side Morris County Colonials, where his brother Simon also plays.
Simon’s injury currently prevents him from joining the Azkals during this training camp, but that won’t stop Chris, which marks the first time he'll played for the Azkals since he figured in the team's friendly against the MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy in a friendly.
Newer faces on the squad list include Matthew Uy and Demit Omphroy. Playing at left back and right back, respectively, both have represented the United States at the junior level. Omphroy, then went on to also represent the Panama U-21s in qualifiers for the Central American Games.
With new FIFA rules stating that players can represent any country they are eligible for at the senior side until their first cap, no matter whom they played for at the junior level, both now look set to join the Azkals.
Omphroy last played for Toronto FC of America’s top flight league Major League Soccer. Forgiving the mistake of calling it soccer, for a moment, Omphroy usually plays at right back, but featured as a forward for Toronto, making just one appearance. Currently a free agent, if he impresses with the squad, he could well find himself an invitation to play in the UFL.
The rest of the players are familiar to Azkals fans, though Angel Guirado remains uncertain for the camp, after returning to Spain to marry his long term girlfriend of five years last July. Presumably on their honeymoon still, Guirado will still be with Global for the next season of the UFL.
One concern for the team, however, may be the inclusion of only three natural forwards. Denis Wolf, Ian Araneta and OJ Porteria are the only natural strikers in the squad, though Chieffy Caligdong, Jeffrey Christiaens and, if he is confirmed, Angel Guirado could provide cover should there be any injuries. The lack of other forwards will hopefully be used to build a stronger relationship between Wolf and Araneta as the first choice strike partnership in the absence of Phil Younghusband, as is the case in this camp. - AMD, GMA News
Full Azkals Squad for US Training Camp:
Carli De Murga
Jason De Jong
Angel Guirado (to be confirmed)