Azkals star James Younghusband ends 8-month hiatus after debut for Ceres-Negros

AFC U23 Championship Highlights – Australia vs Uzbekistan

Philippines international forward James Younghusband has returned to football after signing for Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros FC.

The 32-year-old had not played a competitive match since turning out for the Azkals in their final group stage match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 against Kyrgyz Republic in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.

But, the Chelsea youth product has now brought that eight-month break to an end and joined the PFL side with barely a month left for Philippines’ 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers second round opener.

James was named among the substitutes for league leaders Ceres’ PFL clash against the Philippines Air Force on Saturday and came off the bench to make his debut for his fourth club in the Philippines.

The England-born footballer was without a club since his previous club Davao Aguilas shut down at the end of 2018. He had reportedly turned down an offer to join a Thai League 1 side last month.

James has made 101 international appearances for Philippines scoring 12 goal since making his debut in 2006. James’ younger brother Phil has also been a free agent since the end of last year and is still without a club.

Philippines are in Group A of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers where they are in the company of China PR, Syria, Maldives and Guam.

The Azkals will open their qualification campaign against Syria on September 5 at the Panaad Stadium in Baccolod before travelling to Dededo to face Guam on September 10.

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