Fil-Spanish to beef up Azkals side
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals will field a full-strength side in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers beginning Friday at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium with pros from overseas coming over, including new Fil-Spanish recruit Javier Patiño.
Patiño, a much-heralded striker who made his mark while playing for Cordova FC in the second division of La Liga, will make his debut in an Azkal uniform in the March 22-26 tourney.
He joins Europe-based pros Stephan Shrock, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Neil Etheridge, Paul Mulders, Rob Gier, Angel and Juani Guirado, and Roland Muller and Phl-based Phil and James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Jason de Jong, Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Carli de Murga, OJ Porteria, Chris Greatwich, Jeff Christiaens, Patrick Reichelt, Matt Uy, and Ed Sacapaño in the 23-man pool called up by the federation.
“We’re always trying to get the best out of the players and win the matches. The best team is only the team that wins. It’s a very good selection, we have all the professional players available,” Azkals coach Michael Weiss said.
High profile acquisition Patiño of top Thai team Buriram United, who scored 10 goals in two years with Cordova, is expected to energize the offensive of the Azkals.
“Patiño is definitely a top player in the Southeast Asian level, even in the Asian level. But it is a team sport and it takes time to connect with the other players. We should give him time. We know that we can expect something but perhaps not the best yet,” said Weiss.
The Azkals are hosting Group E of the qualifiers for the 2014 Challenge Cup’s final round in Maldives. The Pinoy booters will play Brunei on Friday night, Cambodia on Sunday night and Turmenistan on Tuesday night, aiming to top the group to advance to the main draw in Maldives.