Azkals aim high in Suzuki Cup in Singapore


SINGAPORE—Some say the Philippine men’s football team could possibly vie for a semifinals slot in the 2021 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup when it gets the much-anticipated tournament under way on Sunday in Singapore.

Some say we will be hard-pressed to even advance to the next stage of the tournament simply because of the quality of the competition with the Philippines locked in Group A with five-time winner Thailand and three-time champion and host Singapore. The other nations in Group A are Myanmar and Timor Leste.

Filipino football fans will get their answers to their questions when they follow the Azkals’ journey via Tap Sports on Skycable and Cignal as well as the Tap Go app.

All the Group A matches will be played at Kallang National Stadium.

The biennial football tournament among Southeast Asian nations was supposed to be played in December 2020 but was postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last time people were unsure of where to rank the Philippines was six years ago when the Azkals shocked the footballing world when they crashed the semifinals and have since become a regional power.

In this tournament, one can be sure that no one team is looking past the Philippines as the current squad under Coach Scott Cooper is laden with veteran talent with some talented newcomers.

Leading the national charge is team captain Stephan Schrock, naturalized player Bienvenido Maranon and veterans Angel Guirado, Patrick Reichelt, Mike Ott, Martin Steuble and Amani Aguinaldo.

Reichelt (2012, 2014, 2018), Steuble (2014, 2016, 2018) and Aguinaldo (2014, 2016, 2018) will be making their fourth appearance in the biennial tournament.

Other returnees are midfielders Mike Ott, Iain Ramsay, Kevin Ingreso and defender Daisuke Sato.

Making their first appearances are goal keepers Kevin Ray Hansen (Kuala Lumpur City FC), Bernd Schipmann (Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC) and Quincy Kameraad (Azkals Development Team).

On defense, Cooper has Mar Vincent Diano (Azkals Development Team), Juastin Baas (United City FC), Yrick Gallantes (Azkals Development Team) Jesper Nyholm (Djurgardens IF), Matthew Custodio (Azkals Development Team), Christian Rontini (Azkals Development Team) and Jefferson Tabinas (Mito Hollyhock) to count on.

The midfield counts Harry Foll (FC 08 Villingen), Sandro Reyes (Azkals Development Team), Dennis Cheung (Azkals Development Team), Oli Bias (Azkals Development Team), Amin Nazari (United City FC) and Kenshiro Daniels (Kaya FC-Iloilo).

Up front is Guirado, Maranon and Reichelt.

Under the leadership of Philippine Football Federation President Mariano Araneta and national team manager Dan Stephen Palami, the AFF Suzuki Cup will be their sixth sojourn together.

In that span, the national team has reached the semi-finals four times.

In this edition, Coopers’ boys intend to come pout, play hard and possible shock the world once more.

To follow the matches of the Azkals as well as the rest of the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup, fans can tune into Tap Sports on Skycable or Cignal or they can download the Tap Go app and subscribe.

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