Thursday, October 06, 2011

Coach Weiss to field Dream Team vs. Lions?

TEN months after stunning Singapore with a last-gasp equalizer in the AFF Suzuki Cup, the former Southeast Asian Champions will face off with the Philippine team again, this time, at home in a friendly match at the Jalan Basar Stadium.

And this time, Singapore will be ready to take on the Azkals, which was the surprise package of the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010, when it made the semifinals of the biennial tournament for the first time.

Though Singapore already knows the quality of Philippine football has changed, Coach Michael Weiss may have a slight advantage as the team he’s bringing for the friendly is totally different from the one that stunned the Lions with a 92nd minute equalizer from Chris Greatwich.

Among the new players who were not in the Suzuki Cup last year are Stephen Shrock, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders and striker Angel Aldeguer.

The holdovers are brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Neil Etheridge, Roy Jonsson, Emilio Caligdong and team captain Ali Borromeo.

And the Singapore friendly will be the first time that coach Weiss will get a chance to field his dream team.

In an earlier interview, coach Weiss showed his dream lineup—Manny Ott, Lucena, Borromeo and Cagara in the back line, James Younghusband, Shrock, Mulders and Caligdong on midfield and Aldeguer pairing up with Phil up front.

Dan Palami, in another interview, confirmed that it was the same lineup he and coach Weiss has been talking about for months as the strongest team for the Philippines.

Cebu-based coach Graeme Mackinnon, who will make his return to Philippine football as coach of Global FC, agrees.

“Well, we would need to get no less than a draw as Michael has said this is possibly one of the strongest squads he has had. Maybe the home ground advantage given by the Pinoys there will inspire the players,” Mackinnon told Sun.Star Cebu.

The match may be in Singapore, but reports from the Lion City say almost 75 percent of the 6,000-seater stadium will be occupied by Pinoys based in the city and some who are traveling just for the game.

The Azkals recently finished second in the Long Teng Cup to defending champion Hong Kong. The Philippines finished with five points, while Hong Kong had 7. 

After the Singapore friendly, the Lions will face Jordan on Oct. 11 in the third round of the Fifa World Cup 2014 qualifiers, while the Philippines will take on Nepal in Manila in another friendly match.

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