'We have a young, talented squad' - Azkals captain Phil Younghusband
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 18, 2016 05:15 PM
"We have a young squad, a very talented squad thatís full of energy and eager to learn. "
When the Philippine men's national football team takes to the pitch at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan for their 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup opener against Singapore, they're going to be parading a significantly different team than the one they had during the last AFF tournament in late 2014.
Former skipper Rob Gier has retired, and so have notable players such as Chris Greatwich and most recently, Juani Guirado. They'll also be missing the services of Javier Patino and Daisuke Sato due to club commitments.
If the lineups from the last few friendlies will be any indicator of the squad that will be in the AFF Suzuki Cup though, it looks like the Azkals will be boasting a pretty young core, and for skipper Phil Younghusband, it's important for the development, not just of the team, but the sport as well.
"Since the last Suzuki Cup, we’ve had a lot of players retire and some players injured, and we’re glad to have our young players come through." Younghusband told ABS-CBN Sports. "For the development of the team and the development of Philippine football, young players need to come in and gain experience. I think with this squad, you’ll see a lot of young players.
Phil even gave a playful example of how young this new Azkals squad will be.
"We always joke that Schroecky, he was one of the youngsters, and now he’s our oldest player, and he’s not even old."
For the past few friendly matches, names like Mike Ott, Paolo Bugas, Junior Muñoz, have made the cut, while the likes of OJ Porteria and Kenshiro Daniels have been wearing the country's colors since the late stages of the World Cup Qualifiers.
Younghusband believes that while young, this new-look Azkals team is capable of a lot, and they'll be a glimpse into the national team's future.
"We have a young squad, a very talented squad that’s full of energy and eager to learn. I think it’s good for the team, good development that the young players are coming through. Eventually they’ll be the experienced players, in the position we are now."
The Philippine Azkals open the AFF Suzuki Cup against Singapore on Saturday, November 19, 8:00 pm at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.