Azkals ready to defend Peace Cup crown
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals are ready to defend their Peace Cup title next week in Bacolod against challengers Chinese-Taipei and Pakistan.
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) said it is ready to host the second edition of the Philippine Football Peace Cup, which will be held on October 11-15 in Bacolod City. The five-day tournament falls on FIFA match dates.
The Philippines won the first edition of the Peace Cup in September 2012 – their first international crown in nearly a century – and is expected to field in a powerhouse team this year with foreign-based players joining local stalwarts.
Stephan Schrock, Neil Etheridge, Jerry Lucena, Rob Gier and Juani Guirado are expected to join the squad, as well as Paul Mulders, Angel Guirado and Patrick Reichelt.
Philippine-based players expected to be called up include Phil and James Younghusband, who were left out of the squad last year.
Chieffy Caligdong, Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, Patrick Deyto, Chris Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, OJ Porteria and Edward Sacapano are also expected to be called up.
The tournament will start with the Azkals taking on Chinese Taipei on October 11, and Pakistan on October 15.
Chinese Taipei, ranked 175th win the world, will face Pakistan, ranked 170th, on October 13.
The PFF remains upbeat even with the tournament’s lack of a fourth participating team.
“We welcome both Chinese-Taipei and Pakistan, and we look forward to competitive matches with them,” PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes said in a statement.
“The Peace Cup is football’s contribution to help highlight every Filipino’s desire for peace, especially in the Mindanao conflict areas. Football values of fair play and respect are aligned with the ongoing peace process,” he added.
The October matches signal the start of the Azkals’ build-up for the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldivez in May 2014.
In November, they will play friendlies against the United Arab Emirates and India.
All Peace Cup games will be held at the Panaad Stadium.