Etheridge return boosts Azkals

Originally published by Daily Tribune Online

Neil Etheridge returns for national duty as he leads Philippine Azkals in the FAS Tri-Nations Series to be held from 23 to 29 March in Singapore.

The Birmingham City FC goalkeeper was included in the 25-man national pool which will see action in the upcoming pocket tournament that will be participated by host team Singapore and Malaysia.

The Azkals will have their first friendly match this year when they face the Malaysians on 23 March, followed by their reunion with a familiar Singaporean side on the 29th.

The tourney will serve as their preparation before going to the third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Mongolia in June.

The Philippines is drawn in Group B alongside Palestine, Yemen and Mongolia.

The Azkals will have their first friendly match this year when they face the Malaysians on 23 March.

Azkals prospect Gerrit Holtmann of Bundesliga team VfL Bochum is tipped to make his debut with the national squad, including Spain-based booter Enrique Linares and Diego Bardanca.

Skipper Stephan Schrock, who recently parted ways with United City FC, leads holdovers Manuel Ott, Mike Ott, Oliver Bias, Justin Baas, Kevin Ingreso, Oskari Kekkoken, Kevin Ray Mendoza and naturalized forward Bienvenido Maranon.

Also making the cut are veterans Patrick Reichelt, Mark Hartmann, Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato, Patrick Strauss and Carli de Murga.

In a recent interview, Azkals manager Dan Palami said they are pinning hopes that their March campaign would lead to an improved performance since their disappointing AFF Suzuki Cup bid in December.

“We will be using this camp in March to look at the players who would be debuting for the Azkals, players like Gerrit Holtmann and a few more,” Palami said.

“We’ll get to assess them plus the other players that have been with us for a while.”

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