Tag Archives: Thomas Dooley

Philippines Marks Return with Friendly vs Malaysia

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The Philippine Men’s National Team make their much awaited return to the pitch with a FIFA International Friendly Match against Malaysia tonight at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The match will be the first time the entire team will be together following the AFF Suzuki Cup campaign where the Philippines failed to advance to the next round.

Speaking ahead of the friendly, Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said that he hoped his side gets the better of Malaysia ahead of their AFC Asian Cup qualifier match against Nepal next week. The past four meetings between the two sides ended in draws.

“It’s a long time ago and we feel this is the right time,” said Dooley, who made his debut as Azkals coach against the same opponent. “It’s way too long so we have to prepare for the game. We only play eight games a year and obviously we like to win every game.”

Dooley has a full squad at his disposal. Neil Etheridge, Daisuke Sato, Mike Ott, and Javier Patino, are all available for the friendly. Save from Ott, the three were unavailable during the Suzuki Cup because the tournament did not fall during FIFA International dates. AFC Cup teams Ceres Negros FC and Global FC have a combined total of 15 players in the squad while Loyola Meralco Sparks FC have two players. Stallion Laguna FC and Kaya Makati FC have one player each in the lineup.

“It does come to mind that we haven’t won against Malaysia,” said skipper Phil Younghusband. “If we want to go further, we have to beat the teams that we have yet to beat in the past.”

The match kicks off at 7:30 PM and will be shown live at http://pff.org.ph/pff-tv. — CAL

A Painful Lesson: Philippines Eliminated from the Suzuki Cup

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It was not the result that everyone wanted but the Azkals’ elimination may have served as a way to bring everyone back to the ground.

The Philippine Sports Stadium was left stunned when the full-time whistle was blown last Friday. November 25, 2016 will be etched into the minds of Philippine football fans as the day the Philippine Men’s National football team bowed out of the AFF Suzuki Cup group stage for the first time in six years. Perhaps it will be more painful to remember because the Philippines hosted the group stage this year.

At full-time, Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang had just one word for the fans in the stadium:


And he truly was apologetic. Thailand had arguably given the Philippines the chance to advance by fielding their second stringers for the match. However, the Azkals failed to convert all their chances and in the 81st minute, Sarawut Masuk broke the hearts of Filipino fans with a winner.

Coach Thomas Dooley was left to rue about the forgettable campaign. If the Philippines had won at least one game instead of drawing 2, they would have advanced to the semifinals.

“We would have liked to go to the next round,” said Dooley. “It’s disappointing but we have to move on.”

Indonesia, who defeated Singapore with a 2-1 come from behind win in Rizal Memorial Stadium, claimed the second semifinal slot at the Azkals’ expense.

Now where does the Philippine team go from here? There are now several questions up in the air.

For a team that had so much promise, the Suzuki Cup exit proved to be a massive disappointment especially as the country was hosting the tournament for the first time. From what could have been a tournament to remember, the campaign became a tournament of what ifs.

What if Neil Etheridge, Daisuke Sato, and Javier Patino were all available during the Suzuki Cup, would it have been a better showing for the Azkals?

Perhaps. But knowing that the Suzuki Cup always falls outside the FIFA international match window, team management could have put more time and effort to secure these players for the tournament. Or, they could have adjusted earlier knowing full well that there really was a huge possibility that the overseas-based players would not be released by their clubs.

Another factor to consider was losing Simone Rota and Patrick Reichelt to injuries. The two injured players, who were part of the 2014 campaign, could have helped the team during the tournament. The absence of these key players left Dooley to field players in unusual positions.

The next edition of the Suzuki Cup will be in two years time, hopefully there will be better communication between the national team and all the clubs concerned both here and abroad.

Still, the 23-man Philippine squad showed some grit during the 2-2 fight back against Indonesia and even in the loss to Thailand.

“The players played with heart and they played what they could as long as their legs kept moving,” said Dooley after the match with Thailand. “They tried to do everything but it is what it is.”

What if the Philippine Sports Stadium was packed to the rafters?

The attendance at the Philippine Sports Stadium were extremely disappointing. With a seating capacity of 25,000, the highest attended match in the Suzuki Cup at the stadium was only 4,300. In contrast, co-hosts Myanmar enjoyed full support in the group stage with attendances averaging almost 30,000 people across all their three match dates.

Both coach Thomas Dooley and the players have asked fans to go out to the Stadium way before the tournament started. But those words seemingly fell on deaf ears and fans were probably not too keen about trekking to the Stadium which is located beyond the outskirts of Manila.

Truth be told, going to the Philippine Sports Stadium is no easy task especially because of the lack of public transport. The Philippine Football Federation made the effort to provide shuttles for the fans, but it was not enough to bring enough warm bodies to the stadium.

One positive takeaway from the fans attendance was the undying support showed by the Ultras Filipinas. The group shouted their hearts out in support of the team, their voices reverberating throughout the stadium and creating an intimidating atmosphere despite the dismal attendance numbers.

What if “that” substitution never happened?

With less than 15 minutes left to salvage a win, Dooley made a sub that arguably decided the Azkals’ campaign. Kevin Ingreso came on for the 17-year-old Marco Casambre, perhaps hoping of shoring up the defense late in the match. That plan ultimately backfired as Thailand scored on the break with nine minutes left from time.

Dooley thought the tactic would work, opting for speed instead of stability in defense. “We needed more speed in defense, that’s why I put (Kevin) in. That was the plan,” the head coach explained after the match.

However, that substitution might not have decided the match had the Philippines converted any of their chances. The Azkals had 12 shots with seven on target. Had any of those seven shots gone in, it could have been a different story altogether.

“We created couple of chances, we had good chances,” added Dooley. “We could have won it in the first half but it is what it is, they have very good players.”

What is next for the Azkals?

After every campaign, the question usually asked is, what’s next? It will be a good four months before the Philippines returns to action on the international stage. The AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers begin on March 2017.

The next four months will be crucial for Dooley as the Philippines will be matched up against stiff opposition in the qualifiers.

“(We need to) do the right thing to prepare for the Asian Cup and we need to plan for it, like a four-week camp and constant training sessions.” Dooley said when asked about Asian Cup Qualifiers preparations. “It’s something we have to be careful to prepare.”

Captain Phil Younghusband also shared his thoughts moving forward:

“The progression of football has been there and not qualifying to the semifinals is a disappointment, but we still have high expectations because we have good players and we know their quality (moving forward),” Azkals skipper said. “We’ve got (enough) time to look at the games and where we need to learn and improve. The (AFC Asian Cup) Qualifiers will be more difficult because we will be playing countries from all over Asia.”

This Suzuki Cup was the last edition where there will be a host nation. From 2018, the Suzuki Cup will still follow the group stage format, but it will be played home-and-away. The change in format means that while the Philippines will still have the chance to play the group stage matches on home soil, it will not be known how many matches will be hosted in the Philippines until the seeding in the draw.

At the end of the day, the Suzuki Cup elimination may just be the lesson the team and Philippine football fans needed to remember exactly how far they still need to go. For the past six years, Philippine football has dared to chase its dreams. Now, it is time to face reality. — CAL

Thomas Dooley: Azkals are Committed for the Suzuki Cup

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If last Wednesday night’s win over Kyrgyzstan meant anything, it was a much needed result for the Azkals as the AFF Suzuki Cup draws closer.

With the tournament less than ten days away, anything but a victory over the Central Asian side might have spelled disaster for the Philippines, who are hosting the biennial meet for the very first time.

“The team chemistry, is almost at 80%, better than it was before,” said head coach Thomas Dooley. “This victory helps us but we have to keep the players reminded that this win will be for nothing if we don’t play great in the Suzuki Cup.”

Misagh Bahadoran’s second half strike lifted the Philippines to a tight 1-0 win over the Central Asian side, in their final match leading up to the Suzuki Cup.

“I’m very happy with the commitment of the players,” Dooley said of the victory. “They did everything we talked about before and they tried to be tight at the back when Kyrgyzstan were close at goal, shifting and not giving them too much space.”

Perhaps one problem coach Thomas Dooley has resolved is a proper defensive partner for Amani Aguinaldo in central defense. In their last three matches, the Azkals coach alternated between Dennis Villanueva (against Kyrgyzstan) and Luke Woodland (against Bahrain and North Korea). The result provided contrasting result as the Philippines were humbled with identical 3-1 defeats last month.

“Sato’s communication and knowledge of the game came to play,” continued Dooley, who is raring for the CSMP Iasi defender to be available for the Suzuki Cup. “He gave us security at the back.”

The performance was a far cry from the two losses last October. While the Azkals looked lost at times in the losses to Bahrain and North Korea, against Kyrgyzstan they seemed determined.

“They were fighting, you could see that they’re not just jogging and acting,” added Dooley. “The players had great commitment particularly in the second half.”

The Azkals will continue to prepare for the tournament in the next few days. Their first game in the Suzuki Cup will be against Singapore on November 19 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets, use the code: #SulongAzkals for a 10% discount. — CAL

DPR Korea Exact Revenge on the Azkals

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The Azkals were given a swift reality check in their preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup after DPR Korea dominated them with a 3-1 victory on Monday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

It was a second straight defeat for the Azkals after Friday’s loss to Bahrain. Despite making three changes to the starters, the lack of cohesion among the players was evident against the very same team they defeated last March.

“(The loss serves as) a reality check,” said Azkals coach Thomas Dooley. “We cannot live in a dream world, we have to know where we are right now.”

Pak Kwang Ryong gave the guests the lead inside the first ten minutes by delivering a towering header from the corner kick that left Roland Muller rooted to his spot. Pak Song Chol doubled the lead in the 38th minute when the Azkals failed to cover their lines in defense.

Jong Il Gwan sent the scoreline beyond doubt in the 67th minute after more questionable defending at the back. However, the latter stages of the match saw the Azkals mount a fight back.

Iain Ramsay came on in the 70th minute and made an immediate impact in the match. The winger netted a consolation goal in the 76th minute with a delicate chip shot from the set piece.

The goal brought the Azkals back to life in the hopes of another come from behind performance. However, a repeat of their last minute heroics in several of their last meetings did not happen.

With only six weeks left before the Suzuki Cup, Dooley chose to underline the positives.

“If the Suzuki Cup starts tomorrow, (the result) would be a concern for me,” added Dooley. “But we have time to change that. Our players have a long way to go and they have to understand that.” — CAL

A Crucial Test: Azkals Face DPR Korea

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After a shock 1-3 loss to Bahrain last Friday, the Philippine national team look to gather themselves as they face DPR Korea tonight, 8:00 PM at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The loss to Bahrain served as a timely wake up call for the Azkals. The Philippines were outperformed by their opponents, who scored twice within the opening few minutes of either half before adding a third goal late in the match. Azkals coach Thomas Dooley remained unfazed however, knowing that these two games are part of their preparation for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup which kicks off next month.

“The last game (against Bahrain) and this game against North Korea (are part of) a learning process,” said Dooley in the pre-match press conference. “The process does not come over night, it takes months, sometimes it takes years to develop what we want.”

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides. DPR Korea claimed a 2-0 win in the opening match of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.

The last two meetings were in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In their first match-up in the Qualifiers last year, the Azkals escaped Pyongyang with a scoreless draw in front of a capacity crowd.

Their recent meeting will probably go down as one of the most memorable Azkals matches in recent history. Down 1-2 with ten minutes left, the Azkals scored twice late in the match to snatch an emphatic 3-2 win over DPR Korea and finish the Qualifiers on a high note. Misagh Bahadoran, Manny Ott, and Iain Ramsay were on target that night, helping to send DPR Korea out of the World Cup Qualifiers.

Dooley will use the match as a way to develop every single player on the roster ahead of the Suzuki Cup. Against Bahrain, Dooley deployed the likes of Paolo Bugas, Fitch Arboleda, and Daniel Gadia to allow the younger members of the team ample playing time and gain valuable experience as part of the National Team.

“This game is important for the development (of the players),” added Dooley. “I want to play good football, it’s wishful thinking but (at the end), the result is the most important thing.”

Azkals team captain Phil Younghusband echoed Dooley’s words.

“It will be a good test for us, knowing what a good team North Korea are,” said the skipper. “We’re all excited, and it will be a good game.”

The match will be show on a delayed basis on Sports + Action but will be live on its streaming site. Sports + Action’s telecast will start at 9:00 PM.– CAL

UAAP Players Relish Azkals Chance

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Midway in the second half of the Philippines’ 1-3 loss against Bahrain, coach Thomas Dooley opted for a younger set of players on the pitch.

Paolo Bugas came on for Iain Ramsay in the 64th minute. Fitch Arboleda followed in the 72nd minute replacing Misagh Bahadoran, and Daniel Gadia made his Azkals’ debut when he replaced skipper Phil Younghusband eight minutes from time. The three substitutes, along with starters Patrick Deyto and Amani Aguinaldo all share something in common — they are all homegrown and went through the UAAP.

Gadia has, in fact, one more playing year left with the University of the Philippines, who are the current UAAP champions. Bugas also has one more year at Far Eastern University. Arboleda graduated from University of the East and is now an assistant coach for his alma mater. Aguinaldo is enrolled at the University of the Philippines and formerly played for Far Eastern as well. Deyto graduated from De La Salle University and is a product of the Hans Smit brand of football.

“It was a good opportunity for me and the other players in the team,” said Bugas in Filipino after the match. “It was a different feeling because in the past, we were rivals in the UAAP, but now we are playing together for the national team.”

“It was refreshing to see that we UAAP players were on the pitch (for the national team),” said Gadia.

It was a pivotal moment for Gadia when his name was called to come in on the pitch. The University of the Philippines standout dedicated his first international cap to fallen UP teammate Rogie Maglinas.

“I started visualizing what to do in the game (when my name was called up),” added Gadia. “ (Rogie and I) both dreamed to play in the national team. Now, I will continue his dream and hope to play more for the national team.”

Bugas and Gadia added that they are slowly adapting to the system of Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley.

“I don’t want to waste this opportunity,” said Bugas, the FEU Tamaraw. “We’re glad because Coach Dooley gives us a chance to play.”

“It was a bigger opportunity for the young ones to dream that they can emulate what we have done,” added Gadia. “They just need hard work and dedication and they can follow the footsteps of the senior players.”

The Azkals coach praised all the three substitutes for the effort they put in despite the final score.

“They all did well,” said Dooley about the trio. “I wanted Gadia to have a little bit of playing time in midfield to get some good touches and play a little bit. Bugas obviously is a great player, has a great future we just have to get him more in training. Fitch (Arboleda) is good, he’s a guy that can be at the right place at the right time.”

The Philippines face DPR Korea on Monday, October 10, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Kick off is at 8:00 PM. —  CAL

At Last: Manny and Mike Ott Fulfil Dream of Playing Together

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When the Azkals squad was announced for the FIFA International friendly matches against Bahrain and DPR Korea, the Philippines got a massive boost: Mike Ott was called up.

Playing as a second striker or as an attacking midfielder in the reserve team of 1.FC Nurnberg, Mike Ott is the latest addition to the Azkals in preparation for next month’s Suzuki Cup. Mike is the younger brother of Azkals mainstay and Ceres-La Salle midfielder Manny Ott. The Otts have another brother, Mike’s twin Marco, who also played football as a child, but has decided to focus on his studies back in Germany.

This is not the first time Mike Ott has been called up to the squad. The forward part of the team during the June 2013 friendly match against Hong Kong but former Azkals coach Hans Weiss decided against handing Mike his first international cap.

Now, Mike may finally get his chance, and in front of the home crowd to boot. Older brother Manny is raring to see his younger brother play. According to the older Ott, Mike was also called up for the friendly against Kyrgyzstan last month but he was unable to join the team because of club commitments.

“It’s good to have Mikey here,” said Manny after the training session at the Rizal Memorial Stadium yesterday. “We tried to convince him to play (for the Azkals in the past) now it finally got to happen.”

With only two training sessions under his belt, Mike has already shown what he can provide for the team.

“He did well in the trainings and he’s a good addition to the team offensively,” Manny said like only an older brother could. “I’m happy that he’s here.”

“The training was good,” Mike added. “I hope that I can play for my national team, the Philippines. I’m very proud to be here.”

On Friday’s match against Bahrain, the Ott brothers finally have the chance to live out their dream of playing together for the national team.

“The last time I remember we played (was) in a pitch in Germany when we were small and it was a long time ago,” said Mike. “Now it’s a dream come true to have my brother with me on the pitch and the national team.”

Coach Thomas Dooley was delighted with Mike’s decision to play for the Philippines and his performance in the training sessions.

“I would like to see Mike playing with us against a strong team to see what he can do,” said Dooley. “He will definitely get playing time.”

Should Mike feature in either of the friendlies, he and Manny will be another set of brothers that have played together for the national team. In the recent past the Azkals have had several brothers playing for the flag: Armand and Anton Del Rosario; James and Phil Younghusband; Chris, Phil, and Simon Greatwich; Darren (U23), Matthew, and Mark Hartmann; Marvin and Marwin Angeles; Juani and Angel Guirado.

The Azkals face Bahrain this Friday, October 7, 2016 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Kick off is at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets. — CAL

Philippines, Kyrgyzstan Battle in Bishkek

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The Philippine Men’s National Team is set to lock horns with 105th-ranked Kyrgyzstan tonight, 8:30 PM (10:30 PM Manila time) at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek.

It will be the first time that the two nations will face each other. Kyrgyzstan are coming off a 2-0 win over Kazakhstan last week. The Philippines will face Kyrgyzstan one more time on November 9 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan.

Coach Thomas Dooley is not resting on his laurels ahead of this friendly match. With vital FIFA ranking points up for grabs, the Azkals coach called up several overseas-based players, namely Neil Etheridge, Daisuke Sato, and Iain Ramsay.

“This friendly has a lot at stake,” said Dooley last week during the Azkals’ training session in Manila. “(Kyrgyzstan) are a great team and it’s important to get good results to move up in the rankings.”

Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband, who made his return to the squad after almost a year, echoed Dooley’s sentiments.

“We don’t know a lot about Kyrgyzstan,” said Younghusband. “They’re a strong team and it will be a good test for us.”

However, the forward is also concerned that the travel to Bishkek might affect the team’s performance. The Azkals left Manila last Saturday and arrived in Bishkek late Sunday.

“Traveling is a part of (being in) the national team,” added Younghusband. “Sometimes it’s difficult to adjust after a long trip.”

It may be the only match for the Azkals this month after the Turkmenistan game fell through, but Team Manager Dan Palami hopes that they can iron out everything in the crucial stages of their preparation for the Suzuki Cup.

“It hasn’t been the ideal preparation as we would have wanted,” said Palami. “Hopefully we are able to recover in the next few months. We still have time and hopefully, (the preparation) will be better.”

There will be no local coverage for the match here in the Philippines, however, the Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic has indicated that there will be coverage in Bishkek. Details to follow on social media. — CAL

Suzuki Cup: The Perfect Place for Revenge?

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Azkals coach Thomas Dooley insists that the Philippines should make their hosting of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup a performance to remember against the three teams that kicked them out of the competition in the past.

The Philippines were handed a tough assignment in the Suzuki Cup draw: defending champions Thailand, four-time winners Singapore, and a resurgent Indonesia. Dooley, who will lead his side for a second Suzuki Cup, stated that their group is a place where they cannot take any games for granted.

“Honestly, (our group) is the strongest group,” said Dooley. “I really must say that I like the situation that we have the three teams that kicked us out last three tournaments. It a perfect place for revenge.”

Heading into the tournament, the Azkals were given a boost with Stephan Schrock’s loan deal extension with Ceres-La Salle FC up until January 2017. Goalkeeper Roland Muller, who last featured in the loss against Yemen in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, has also sealed a long-term deal with the Bacolod club.

The squad reinforcements comes at a convenient time for Dooley. Several overseas-based players, such as Daisuke Sato, Luke Woodland, Neil Etheridge, and maybe Iain Ramsay, have a slim chance of joining the team for the Suzuki Cup since the tournament falls outside of the FIFA international window. Javier Patiño, on the other hand, has a chance to join the Azkals as the Chinese Super League finishes on November 5th, two weeks before the Suzuki Cup.

However, the former United States captain reiterated that performance on the field — not career accomplishments — remains the deciding factor for players to get a spot on the squad.

“I have been saying that since the first day I came over here,” Dooley said, “It’s not about the age, not about the looks, not about the fame, not about where they play, it’s all about performance in training and performance on the field.”

Dooley also highlighted how important the little details are moving forward. The Azkals reached an all-time high of 115 in the FIFA rankings last May but have since dropped back to 134.

“Everything has a huge effect on the team, where you sleep, how you sleep, how you eat, how you travel, and also how you prepare for a match,” continued Dooley. “The challenge we have for the next few months is for everything to be right.”

The Azkals are revving up for the Suzuki Cup starting with a friendly against Turkmenistan on September 2 in Manila, and Kyrgyzstan on September 6 in Bishkek. — CAL

Philippines World Cup Qualifiers Campaign Continues Against Yemen

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The Philippine Men’s National Football team will play their final 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers of the year against Yemen tonight at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

As things stand, the Philippines are in third place in Group H with seven points, with two wins, two losses, and one draw. DPR Korea and Uzbekistan lead the group with 13 and nine points, respectively.

How crucial is the game against Yemen?

The Azkals need to win against Yemen. Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said in the pre-match press conference that the game against Yemen is “an absolutely must-win game.”

“I believe in this team and if everyone shows up (for the match), we have a good chance to win,” Dooley said.

A win will see the Philippines live to fight another day provided that least Uzbekistan drop crucial points against DPR Korea. The two teams will also meet tonight at 9:00 PM Manila time.

A draw or a defeat will put the Philippines in the perilous position of missing directly qualifying into the third round of the World Cup Qualifiers and a direct slot in the Asian Cup finals. The Azkals would have to fight for third place where a spot in the third round of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers is up for grabs.

Do the Azkals need to score as many goals as they can?

Not only do the Azkals need to win against Yemen, they also have to win convincingly — by pouring on a hefty number of goals.

The Philippines have not scored in their last two matches. Stephan Schrock’s 65th minute consolation against Uzbekistan last September 8 was the last goal scored in the Qualifiers.

If the Philippines will contend for a spot in the next round of the World Cup Qualifiers, they have to improve on their goal difference, which is currently at -3.

The Rizal Memorial Stadium has already witnessed a number of high-scoring matches in recent times. However, as far as scoring is concerned, Dooley is wary that it will get into the players’ heads. The Philippines have conceded a total of seven goals in the past three games, (five against Uzbekistan and two against Bahrain).

“If a player comes into the game thinking we have to score 4-5 goals, we will lose,” said Dooley. “We need points, and in defense, no goals against us.”

Who is in and out of the lineup?

Skipper Phil Younghusband will miss the match due to suspension. Younghusband picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the loss against Bahrain last month. Luke Woodland will also miss the match because of commitments with his new club, Chester City F.C.

Striker Javier Patino is back in the squad after missing the matches versus DPR Korea and Bahrain. Roland Muller will make his first Azkals start after six months according to Dooley. First-choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will miss the match because of an injury.

Is the Yemen game the Azkals’ last match of the year?

The FIFA International break will end next week on November 17th. As of this writing, there are no more scheduled matches for the Philippines in this international break. The next International break will be on March 21-29, 2016 where the Azkals will face Uzbekistan in Tashkent on March 24, 2016 and DPR Korea here at home on March 29, 2016.

Kick off is at 8 PM tonight. We hope you’ll be watching too. — CAL


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