Azkals face Fiji in friendly on March 22

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will host an International Friendly “A” Match between the Philippine Men’s National Team and Fiji Men’s National Team on 22 March 2018 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

Authorizations from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA are currently being secured.

This will be the second time the Philippines football squad play against a team from the Oceania Football Confederation. In October 2014, the Philippines hosted the Papua New Guinea men’s team.

The friendly will serve as the final tune-up game of the Philippines men’s team before its AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers match against Tajikistan on 27 March 2018.

As per PFF, ticket details will be announced later this week.

Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley to fans: ‘No Stephan Schrock call-up’

Philippine Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley was quick to refute any chance for Stephan Schrock to return to the national team ahead of the final Asian Cup qualifier game against Tajikistan on March 27, 2018 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Giving his statements through Facebook comments on John Duerden’s opinion article posted this noon suggesting on Schrock and Dooley ironing out their differences and reuniting in the squad to boost the team’s qualification campaign, the coach finally puts the matter to rest.

However, this just encouraged further reactions from fans in airing their opinions and reaching out to the head coach.

The comments section suddenly turned into a sort of pop-up Q&A forum.

 

Some offered support for the head coach while others were strongly insisting on bringing back the Ceres-Negros star player in the squad.

Coach Dooley in spite of the mixed feedback kept it cool and shared his insights. He even seem to “enjoy” the discussion.

The thread as of this writing is still going on and somehow gives fans a very minute glimpse of the coach’s insights and the national team in a very informal way.

Philippines and Stephan Schrock need each other. Time for a reunion

John Duerden

John Duerden reckons the talented midfielder and Philippines national side coach Thomas Dooley need to bury the hatchet.

March is a big month in Southeast Asian football but then you can say that about pretty much any month especially when it is AFF Suzuki Cup and Asian Games Year. The domestic leagues, the continental competitions and Asian Cup qualifiers mean that there is always lots going on.

For the Philippines that is certainly true. The new season of the Philippines league kicks off next month. It is the second edition of the country’s first nationwide and professional league and is crucial. Two teams have announced they will not be participating due to the costs involved and now there are just six left. There are some major challenges for the league to increase corporate interest, marketing and exposure. It is debatable whether you can have a league with just six teams. Being generous, you could say it is the bare minimum.

What should make a difference is the national team as it prepares for one of the biggest games in its history. On March 27, the Azkals host Tajikistan in the final game of the final round of qualification for the 20-19 Asian Cup. A point will be enough and it is well within range.

There will be some nervousness however. A mistake or a red card and things can change very quickly. In truth the team should have sealed the deal already, most notably the home game against Yemen on matchday four. Had all three points been taken instead of a 2-2 draw then coach Thomas Dooley could be safely planning the team’s trip to the United Arab Emirates next January.

Then there was the 0-0 in Nepal last time out. Not a game as easy as some said but for a team looking to top the group, it was a disappointing result. Now there is a third bite of the cherry.

It would be a little easier with Stephan Schrock in the team. The German-born midfielder has been a mainstay of the side for a number of years but his relationship with the coach has been as complex as the traffic system in Manila. There have been fall-outs and retirements with the result that the 31 year-old is currently not part of the national team set-up.

At the moment however, Schrock is looking very good indeed. At a time when the domestic league has not even started, he has been pulling up trees for Ceres-Negros.

When the Philippines team went to Australia at the end of January to take on Brisbane Roar in a one-off elimination play-off to enter the group stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League, few gave them a chance. In a two-legged tie, they would have been underdogs but in a single game far from home, it looked to be step too far –until it wasn’t.

Ceres defeated their Australian opponent in what has to be the greatest single result ever recorded by a club from the Philippines. In truth, it deserved more fanfare than it got.

Schrock was excellent on that evening, putting in a disciplined and mature performance in the middle of the park and helping his team-mates feel confident to give the host problems. Not only was he pushing and probing forward. Defensively, he was also excellent.

These kind of footballers are something of a dying breed in the modern game. The trend is for defensive midfielders to be exactly that. Attacking midfielders do what their name suggests too. The box-to-box style stars are less numerous these days. Schrock however helps out on both ends of the pitch. He provides protection for the defence and chips in with goals and assists.

In short, it all makes for a valuable player. Throw in his experience, confidence and never-say-die mentality and you have the kind of player that would be welcomed by any national team in Southeast Asia. He has also played at a level in Europe that other players in the region can only dream of.

The Philippines need him, not just against Tajikistan but also for the Asian Cup and beyond. Schrock can be a difficult character and has resigned from the team before and has had issues with coach Dooley.

They don’t have to love each other but for the good of the national team, they should bury the hatchet deep in one of those beautiful beaches that are so common around the archipelago. Dooley can give Schrock the opportunity to lead his country to a first ever Asian Cup and also give him the opportunity to play in the biggest tournament in the world’s biggest continent.

Schrock gives Dooley a better chance of actually getting to the competition and gives a better chance of success in the UAE. It’s time for the two big personalities to talk and get one of Asia’s most in-form midfielders back where he belongs: on the international stage.

Ceres-Negros ACL decider in jeopardy over visa issue

Scott McIntyre Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre investigates how Ceres-Negros’ quest to qualify for the AFC Champions League could now be out of their control.

Just days after their stunning AFC Champions League qualification victory over Brisbane Roar, Ceres-Negros’ hopes of reaching the group stage hang by a thread as they remain stuck in limbo in the Philippines – unable to obtain the visas they need to travel to China for Tuesday’s final qualifier.

The club has claimed that they’ve appealed to various bodies for help but with none forthcoming, they’ve called upon the AFC to postpone the match against Tianjin Quanjian to ensure that it’s played on an ‘equal’ level.

Having applied for the necessary travel documents at the Chinese embassy in Manila immediately upon their return from Australia they were informed that there wasn’t enough time to process them before the weekend, meaning that the earliest they can secure the visas would be on Monday.

Even if they are processed by then – and the club is not confident that will happen – it means the Ceres squad would need to catch an overnight flight to China, go without sleep or a training session and then play the biggest match in their – and their nation’s – history that same afternoon.

Speaking exclusively with FOX Sports Asia, Ceres coach Risto Vidakovic, termed the situation ‘crazy.’

“I think there’s not enough time – it was a ten hour trip from Australia back to the Philippines and when we arrived it was already Friday,” said Vidakovic.

“The Chinese embassy told us that they needed all the passports to process the visas and that, because it was Friday, they said they didn’t have enough time to give us the visas until after the weekend.

“That means if we get those visas on Monday we then must travel overnight and we will arrive on the matchday and without sleeping or anything and we have to go and play the game.

“This is a bad condition and difficult to compete so it’s a big problem how to organise everything to get there on time and play the game.”

With a best-case situation seeing Ceres arrive in the arctic conditions of Tianjin on Tuesday morning that would give them perhaps as little as seven or eight hours before kickoff.

Vidakovic called that ‘suicide’ for his team and implored the AFC to delay the game so that both clubs can compete on a more even footing – bearing in mind the extensive travel that the lower-ranked team already has to endure just to get to this stage.

He added: “Of course we need more time and they have to understand that we came from another continent and then going to China we have less than one week to prepare visas and prepare everything.

“We also need to think that we have to prepare the right equipment for this kind of match, it’s minus-11 there in China and in the Philippines it’s 35 degrees and everything is different so we need more time to compete in the same conditions as them and that’s only fair.”

“We’ve tried to contact many people, including in the government here, to get the visas, but there’s no possibility and the problem now is we need to try and postpone the game.

“Only the AFC or the ACL organisers can help us and the only possibility to compete in the same, fair, conditions is to move the game one or two days later.”

However, on Sunday evening, an AFC spokesperson responding the queries by FOX Sports Asia clarified that the onus was on the club to ensure all proper documentation was in order.

“Based on provisions of the ACL Regulations and Competition Operations Manual, each Club (and its Member Association), at their own expense, are solely responsible throughout the Competition for obtaining visas to enter the territory of a Host Association,” said the statement from the AFC.

“Each Club must apply for all necessary visas for their Team Official Delegation no later than thirty (30) days prior to each match played outside its territory. This obligation includes potential away Matches, taking into account successful qualification for a further stage of a Competition.”

“Ceres did not apply for a visa ahead of their AFC Preliminary stage game in Brisbane. Since the issue was recognised on Wednesday morning, AFC has worked tirelessly with the Chinese Football Association to ensure visas are available as soon as possible so the match can go ahead as scheduled.”

This story now runs the very real risk of overshadowing the historic 3-2 victory in Brisbane earlier in the week where Vidakovic noted that he felt the A-League club had ‘underestimated’ his side.

“In football nothing is impossible – it was very difficult of course because nobody believed, even us, and we thought that we were just enjoying this competition without good preparation because it’s very difficult to compete with clubs at a high level that are already in their season,” explained the Serb.

“It was a surprise for everyone but if I look back and watch the game again I can say we deserved the win.

“We gave them problems with the transitions and we defended well and counter-attacked fast and that gave us the advantage in a match where the intensity wasn’t so high.

“We thought they would push more early in the second half but they’d didn’t do that and our defence was very good at that point and I think it was normal that they underestimated us before the match, that’s normal and it’s not easy to motivate your players when you play smaller clubs and before the game everyone expects you to score a lot of goals with a relaxed atmosphere.”

Should the game go ahead as scheduled, the winner will then join Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Kitchee and the winner of the Kashiwa Reysol-Muangthong United playoff to complete Group E.

Philippines Vs Tajikistan To Be Held At The Rizal Memorial Football Stadium

The Philippine Men’s National Team will host Tajikistan in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers on 27 March 2018 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) formally received the confirmation from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the venue.

The Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental was earlier nominated to host the final Group F home match between the Philippines and Tajikistan. However, due to difficulties in securing fully-equipped training venues, the venue was moved to the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

“We announce that the AFC has approved the PFF’s request to move the final match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers back to Manila,” said PFF president Mariano V. Araneta Jr. “This match will be a crucial match as it will decide the Philippine Men’s National Team’s chances of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup.”

The last Asian Cup Qualifiers match played in home soil was the 2-2 draw against Yemen last 5 September 2017 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium. The Philippines won their first match match of the Asian Cup Qualifiers in Manila with a 4-1 win against Nepal.

The Philippines lead Group F with 9 points while Tajikistan are in third with 7 points going to the final match of the qualifiers. The Philippines only needs a draw to qualify for the Asian Cup, but it will have to do so against a determined Tajikistan squad.

“We hope all football stakeholders and supporters rally behind the Men’s National Team,” added Araneta. “Qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be a historic moment in Philippine football.”

Ticket details for the match will be announced soon.

2018 will be a big year for ASEAN Football

With the new year upon us, FOX Sports Asia football editor Gabriel Tan looks at the players and teams in ASEAN football who are set for a big 2018.

1) Trio flying ASEAN flag at AFC U-23 Championship

It won’t take long for the first major tournament to kick off with Asia’s best Under-23 teams competing at the AFC U-23 Championship in China.

For the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2013, Southeast Asia will have three representatives (four, if you include fellow ASEAN Football Federation member Australia) present.

Thailand and Vietnam are back again after qualifying two years ago and will be looking to improve on their group-stage exit, while Malaysia – under the stewardship of the experienced Ong Kim Swee – are preparing for their tournament debut and will face Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in Group C.

Vietnam look to have been handed the toughest task as they are in Group D with Korea Republic, Australia and Syria.

On the other hand, Thailand will be quietly optimistic in their chances of reaching the knockout round from a Group B that contains defending champions Japan, but also two very beatable teams in DPR Korea and Palestine.

2) Local leagues overflowing with ASEAN flavour

The decision by Thailand and Malaysia’s domestic leagues to introduce a foreign signing quota specifically for ASEAN imports already looks to be a brilliant masterstroke, both on and off the field.

While the dream for every Myanmar or Cambodia fans is to one day see Aung Thu and Chan Vathanaka grace the biggest stages, taking a smaller step in the right direction is not always a bad thing.

Happy to join with @pahangfa_official @officialligasupermalaysia

A post shared by Chan Vathanaka (@vathanaka_cv11) on

On the field, a premier talent from a neighbouring country can easily be better than a B or C-grade foreigner from Europe, South America or Africa. And off the field, the benefits reaped could be equal if not far greater.

Imagine how many Cambodian fans will now be following every Pahang match? Or how many Myanmar supporters will now be eagerly trying to get their hands on a Police Tero jersey with “Aung Thu 10” on the back?

Either way, the T1 League and MSL will have added intrigue and excitement purely because the likes of Hariss Harun, Evan Dimas, Kyaw Ko Ko, Thierry Chantha Bin and Hoang Vu Samson will be gracing them.

And, should the ASEAN import rule prove to be a success, it would pave the way for competitions like the Liga 1, S.League and V.League 1 to follow suit.

3) Can Indonesia, Philippines maintain momentum?

2017 saw a rebirth for domestic football in two Southeast Asian countries as Indonesia’s Liga 1 and the Philippines Football League had their inaugural campaigns.

While there is still room for much improvement – the PFL especially was plagued by several administrative and scheduling issues – there is no denying that both were a success.

The Liga 1 title race went down to the wire and, while traditional heavyweights like Arema and Persib Bandung faltered, potential powerhouses emerged in the form of Bhayangkara and Bali United.

And, although it may not be everybody’s cup of tea, the PFL’s Finals Series led to a thrilling and fitting conclusion as Philippines’ top four teams faced off for top honours, with Ceres-Negros ultimately emerging triumphant.

The first year is always expected to be a learning experience and expectations were never going to be too high.

In 2018, however, the pressure will be on both organisations to only replicate, but better, the success they have had.

4) Asia beckons as Thailand lead the way

Few would argue that – right now in ASEAN football – Thailand are leading the way on all fronts.

They are the strongest national team at the moment, both at senior and age group level, have clubs regularly competing amongst the continent’s best in the AFC Champions League, and are now exporting homegrown stars like Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda to a top Asian competition such as the J1 League.

2018 will be another platform for Thailand to show that they continue to make progress.

Buriram United would do well to reach the knockout round of the Champions League, while it’s high time Thailand had more than one representative in Asia’s premier club competition.

Honourable defeats to Chinese, Japanese and South Korean clubs in the final qualifying round should no longer be seen as acceptable. This year, provided they advance from the second preliminary round, Muangthong United and Chiangrai United have to strive to beat Kashiwa Reysol and Shanghai SIPG respectively at the final hurdle.

And it’s not just the future of Thailand on the line. Instead, they can set the example for the others to strive for.

Don’t forget that Malaysia will also have a team qualifying automatically for the Champions League group stage.

Whether it be Johor Darul Ta’zim, or another one of the teams that have tried but failed to catch them for the past four years, Buriram – over the next six months – could show them that teams like Guangzhou Evergrande, Cerezo Osaka and Jeju United are to be respected but not feared.

5) AFF Suzuki Cup is up for grabs again

Yes, in the grander scheme of things, the AFF Suzuki Cup should not rank as the biggest of prizes in Southeast Asia.

Teams should be setting their sights on loftier targets like qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup, Olympic Games, FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA World Cup… the list goes on.

But, there is just something about ASEAN supporters and the Suzuki Cup that can be simply traced back to the pure tribal nature of being a football fan.

Put simply, the Suzuki Cup is the one chance each team gets to claim the status of Southeast Asia’s best team for the following two years.

Everyone wants that.

The new format introduced for this year’s edition also adds a different dimension as the group stage will now be spread across the region, meaning each team will get to host at least two matches.

While it promises to be a logistical nightmare for all involved, it is a brilliant move for passionate fans all over who deserve to watch their heroes in action.

Thailand have conquered all that have come before them since 2014, but they were no longer as untouchable in 2016 as they were two years before as Indonesia gave them a real run for their money.

With Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Myanmar rapidly closing the gap, while former champions Malaysia and Singapore will be determined to regain their pride, the 2018 edition of the Suzuki Cup promises to be the most exciting yet.

Jedinak the hero as Socceroos book 2018 World Cup berth

Mile Jedinak was the unlikely hat-trick hero for Australia on Wednesday as a 3-1 win over Honduras sealed the Socceroos’ place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Following a goalless first half at the ANZ Stadium, Jedinak broke the deadlock eight minutes after halftime with a deflected 20-yard freekick, although the strike is likely to be credited as an own-goal to Henry Figueroa.

The 33-year-old then doubled the advantage for the hosts when he scored from the spot in the 72nd minute, before converting another penalty with five minutes remaining to make sure of the victory.

Alberth Elis did restore some respectability to the scoreline when he netted deep into injury-time, although it was little more than a consolation for a Honduras side that were dominated throughout the contest in Sydney.

The result meant that, following a dull 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula, Australia claimed a 3-1 aggregate win in the inter-confederation playoffs to secure their ticket to Russia 2018, the fourth consecutive time they will be gracing world football’s biggest stage.

Plenty of improvement will have to come if they are to even get out of the group stage once next summer comes around, given they had been far from convincing throughout the entire qualifying campaign.

But, with the stakes at their highest, it was Australia who kept their composure with a clinical, disciplined display – albeit with the most unexpected of heroes coming to the fore.

Similar to last Friday’s first leg, there was little to write home about in an opening 45 that saw the host dominate proceedings without ever really threatening Denis Escober’s goal.

Aaron Mooy whipped a freekick into the six-yard box with pace after 13 minutes and, with a sea of players missing out on connecting, Escober had to be alert to parry it away as it skipped off the surface in front of him.

Tom Rogic was next to try his luck eight minutes before the break when he was picked out in a promising position after good work down the left by Tim Cahill and Aziz Behich, only to send a tame first-time effort straight at Escober.

Nonetheless, the breakthrough finally arrived in the 53rd minute when Rogic’s charge towards goal was illegally halted by Bryan Acosta.

With everyone expecting either Rogic or Mooy to step up, it was instead Jedinak who took charge of the situation and – while his side-footed effort looked to be flying harmlessly wide – the unlucky Figueroa found himself in the way of the shot and could only deflect it past a hapless Escober.

Five minutes later, Cahill was unlucky not to make it 2-0 when his looping header from a Rogic cross came crashing back off the bar, although there was no denying Australia in the 72nd minute.

Again, luck was not on Honduras’ side as a low cross was diverted by Johnny Palacios into the arm of Acosta, and referee Nestor Pitana had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

And, while there was a touch of fortune in the way he opened the scoring, it was the exact opposite on this occasion as Jedinak clinically and confidently dispatched the spot-kick beyond Escober’s despairing dive.

By now, celebrations were in full swing amongst the majority of the 77,000 that had turned up at the ANZ Stadium, especially considering Honduras had shown nothing in the previous 160 minutes to suggest a comeback was on the cards.

Instead, it was the Socceroos who continued to push forward with intent and when Robbie Kruse was clipped inside the box by Johnny Palacios after getting in behind the opposition defence, it was only fitting that it was Jedinak who completed what he had started.

 There was a slight blemish at the end for the hosts as a goal-mouth scramble from a corner allowed Elis to poke home from close range.

Still, it mattered little moments later when Pitana blew the final whistle, as Australia erupted in joyous scenes of celebration at achieving a fifth World Cup appearance.

AUSTRALIA: Mathew Ryan, Bailey Wright, Trent Sainsbury, Matthew Jurman, Mathew Leckie, Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan (James Troisi 89’), Aziz Behich, Tom Rogic (Robbie Kruse 77’), Aaron Mooy, Tim Cahill (Tomi Juric 66’).

HONDURAS: Donis Escober, Brayan Beckeles, Johnny Palacios, Maynor Figueroa, Ever Alvarado, Emilio Izaguirre (Henry Figueroa 42’, Mario Martinez 73’), Jorge Claros, Bryan Acosta, Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto (Eddie Hernandez 75’), Anthony Lozano

Follow this writer on Twitter @gabetan13

Azkals miss chance to book 2019 Asian Cup berth

Philippines will have to wait till the final day of qualifiers to book their 2019 AFC Asian Cup spot following a 0-0 draw with Nepal.

Tuesday’s stalemate at the ANFA Complex in Lalitpur still sees the Azkals top of Group F on nine points, three ahead of Yemen and Tajikistan who played later in the day.

Regardless of the result in that game, there is still a chance both those sides can pip Philippines to a top-two finish, meaning they could now need a positive result against the Tajiks next March in order to advance.

It was a frustrating day at the office for Thomas Dooley’s charges, especially in a game that they were not only expected to win, but should not have had any lack of motivation in rising to the occasion.

To Nepal’s credit, they offered spirited resistance but the better chances fell the visitors’ way, only for them to fail to capitalise.

Still, Philippines remain in pole position to qualify for a historic first appearance at the Asian Cup, with a draw against Tajikistan in Bacolod in four months’ time definitely enough for them to achieve just that.

Follow this writer on Twitter @gabetan13

Bahadoran back as Azkals look to book Asian Cup berth

Philippines will welcome back forward Misagh Bahadoran as they looked to seal qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a win over Nepal next week.

The Global Cebu captain, who missed last month’s 1-1 draw with Yemen through injury, was one of five inclusions named in Azkals coach Thomas Dooley’s 23-man squad on Monday.

Philippines are currently looking to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in their history, and victory over Nepal at the ANFA Complex in Lalitpur on November 14 will be enough to secure their progress with a game to spare.

Dooley’s charges are currently top of Group F in the third and final round of qualification, two points ahead of both Yemen and Tajikistan.

With those two teams bound to take points off one another when they meet on the same day in Dushanbe, the Azkals will be assured of a top-two finish simply by beating the Yemeni.

While Philippines will continue to be without key players Manny Ott, Amani Aguinaldo and Javier Patino, they are still expected to get the job done given the quality and experience at Dooley’s disposal.

Europe-based stars Neil Etheridge and Daisuke Sato of Cardiff City and AC Horsens respectively will make the trip, along with Mike Ott, who currently plies his trade in Thailand with Angthong FC.

Ceres-Negros and Global, Philippines’ representatives in the AFC Cup this season, contribute 11 of the 23 players called up, including Bahadoran, Iain Ramsay, Carli de Murga and Hikaru Minegishi.

The four other inclusions are Kaya FC-Makati midfielder Marwin Angeles, Stallion Laguna’s Fitch Arboleda, Global winger Paolo Salenga and Joshua Dutosme of Ceres, with the latter two earning their first-ever call-up to the senior national team.

Goalkeepers: Patrick Deyto (Global Cebu), Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City), Nick O’Donnell (Davao Aguilas)

Defenders: Carli de Murga, Junior Munoz (both Ceres-Negros), Sean Kane (JPV Marikina), Simone Rota (Davao Aguilas), Daisuke Sato (AC Horsens)

Midfielders: Marwin Angeles (Kaya FC-Makati), Fitch Arboleda (Stallion Laguna), Curt Dizon (Meralco Manila), Joshua Dutosme, Kevin Ingreso, Iain Ramsay (all Ceres-Negros), Hikaru Minegishi, Paul Mulders, Paolo Salenga, Dennis Villanueva (all Global Cebu), James Younghusband (Davao Aguilas)

Forwards: Misagh Bahadoran (Global Cebu), Dylan de Bruycker, Phil Younghusband (both Davao Aguilas), Mike Ott (Angthong FC)

Follow this writer on Twitter @gabetan13

PFF releases squad list for Asian Cup Qualifiers vs Nepal

The Philippine Football Federation released its player call-ups for the crucial qualifier match.

The Azkals face Nepal in Match Day 5 of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers on 14 November 2017 at the ANFA Complex in Kathmandu, Nepal.

A win against the hosts will ensure the Philippines’ qualification to the AFC Asian Cup 2019 final round for the very first time with a game to spare.

The Philippines currently sit on top of Group F with 8 points while Nepal is in last place with only a point.

23 players have been called up for the Nepal match.

Former Philippine Under-22 player and Global Cebu forward Paolo Salenga and Ceres Negros forward Joshua Dutosme earned their first call up to the team.

Kaya FC Makati midfielder Marwin Angeles is back with the national team after a stint in 2014. Misagh Bahadoran returns to the squad after missing out in the draw against Yemen last October 10.

Patiño, Amani Aguinaldo, Manny Ott, and Luke Woodland are still out of the squad due to injuries.

Players:
  1. Marwin ANGELES – Kaya FC Makati
  2. Fitch ARBOLEDA – Stallion Laguna FC
  3. Misagh BAHADORAN – Global Cebu FC
  4. Dylan DE BRUYCKER – Davao Aguilas FC
  5. Carlos DE MURGA – Ceres Negros FC
  6. Patrick DEYTO – Global Cebu FC
  7. Curt DIZON – FC Meralco Manila
  8. Joshua DUTOSME – Ceres Negros FC
  9. Neil ETHERIDGE – Cardiff City FC
  10. Kevin INGRESO – Ceres Negros FC
  11. Sean Patrick KANE – JPV Marikina FC
  12. Hikaru MINEGISHI – Global Cebu FC
  13. Paul MULDERS – Global Cebu FC
  14. Jim Junior MUÑOZ – Ceres Negros FC
  15. Nicholas O’DONNELL – Davao Aguilas FC
  16. Mike OTT – Angthong United
  17. Iain RAMSAY – Ceres Negros FC
  18. Simone ROTA – Davao Aguilas FC
  19. Paolo SALENGA – Global Cebu FC
  20. Daisuke SATO – AC Horsens
  21. Dennis VILLANUEVA – Global Cebu FC
  22. James YOUNGHUSBAND – Davao Aguilas FC
  23. Phil YOUNGHUSBAND – Davao Aguilas FC
Head coach Thomas Dooley will be assisted by Stefano Marsella.
The Image and information in this article are courtesy of the Philippine Football Federation (www.pff.org.ph)