Azkals name 34-man training pool ahead of Challenge Cup

MANILA, Philippines - Racing against time ahead of the all-important AFC Challenge Cup campaign in May, newly-appointed Philippine National Men's Football Team coach Thomas Dooley has released an invitation to players for his first training session with the squad on Friday, February 14. 

As expected, the German-born American coach, who recently signed a one-year contract with the Azkals, selected national team mainstays Phil and James Younghusband, Chris Greatwich, Chieffy Caligdong, and Ed Sacapano, among others. 

The Philippines, which retained its 127th position in the latest FIFA Ranking released yesterday, February 13, are scheduled to face Malaysia and Azerbaijan in March 1 and 5 friendlies while an ASEAN Football Federation selection is also set to go up against them in a date yet to be announced in Bacolod.

The former USA skipper and World Cup veteran Dooley has been present in the past few United Football League matches at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig to scout players. The UFL, in an official statement, assured its backing for the Azkals in their Challenge Cup drive.

Impressing Dooley are youngsters OJ Porteria from Kaya, who is currently one of the leading scorers in the league, Mark Hartmann, who is now with Global after a brilliant three year run with Loyola, up and coming defender Amani Aguinaldo, and Green Archers United keeper Patrick Deyto.

Anton del Rosario, Nate Burkey, and Chad Gould will have the opportunity to return to the squad this time after not suiting up for the Azkals in the past months under coach Hans Michael Weiss' stewardship.

New faces are also aplenty in the pool with Charles Pettys, Simone Rota, Nick O'Donnell and Curt Dizon all yet to be capped by the Azkals as Jason de Jong and Carli de Murga still make it despite battling with injuries in recent weeks.

The following players made it to the 34-man pool invited by Dooley, who will start their training tonight at the Emperador: 

Jose Elmer Porteria - Kaya FC

Christopher Greatwich - Kaya FC

Emelio Caligdong - Green Archers United FC

James Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC

Marvin Angeles - Global FC

Marwin Angeles - Global FC

Carlos De Murga - Global FC

Jerry Barbaso - Global FC

Mark Hartmann - Global FC

Jason De Jong - Global FC

Amani Aguinaldo - Global FC

Patrick Deyto - Green Archers United FC

Phillip Younghusband - Loyola Meralco Sparks FC

Jeffrey Christiaens - Global FC

Misagh Bahadoran - Global FC

Anton Del Rosario - Kaya FC

Charles Pettys - Global FC

Simone Rota - Stallion FC

Eduard Sacapano - Philippine Army FC

Patrick Reichelt - Unattached

Nathaniel George Burkey - Pachanga Diliman FC

Ryan Lerio - Philippine Air Force FC

Jake Hugo - Philippine Air Force FC

Rudolf Bebangco - Philippine Air Force FC

Nick O'Donnell - Kaya FC

Paolo Pascual - Global FC

Curt Dizon - Union Internacional Manila

Reymark Fernandez - Green Archers United FC

Ronnie Aguisanda - Green Archers United FC

Deo Segunial - Pachanga Diliman FC

Nathan Octavio - Pachanga Diliman FC

Milan Justin Arends - Stallion FC

Kenshiro Daniels - Kaya FC

Chad Gould - Unattached

The Azkals will try to improve from its bronze medal finish in the 2012 edition of the Challenge Cup and will try to win it all in Maldives on May 19-30 for an automatic slot in the prestigious 2015 AFC Asian Cup. - Rappler.com