MANILA—The Philippines is leaving no stone unturned in its preparations for the Southeast Asian Games as it bids to land a first medal in the men’s football competition slated in the Indonesian cities of Palembang and Jakarta.
With five months to go before the Games, the Under-23 squad began training yesterday at the PhilSports pitch with 20 aspirants showing up led by veteran international Simon Greatwich as well as former national team players Yannick Tuason, Mark Ferrer, Chris Camcam, David Basa, Jerry Barbaso and the returning Matthew Hartmann.
In the runup to the biennial competition, the Under-23 squad will also see action in a five-nation pre-SEA Games tournament next month in Jakarta.
Aside from the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia are also fielding teams in the tournament, according to Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.
The team is awaiting the arrival of veteran German coach Erich Rutemoller, who will serve as team consultant as Azkals coach Michael Weiss focuses on the senior squad now training in Germany for its
World Cup qualifying match against Sri Lanka.
Acknowledged by Weiss as his mentor, the 66-year-old Rutemoller served as assistant coach of the German national team from 1994 to 2004.
Rutemoller, who also has experience coaching the German age-group sides, is arriving in Manila on Saturday.
Highly touted midfielder Mark Hartmann, who scored a curling free kick for the United Football League All-Stars in the 4-3 win against the Azkals in an exhibition game early this month, is also part of the pool.
Gerardo Valmayor, Deo Segunnial, Raymark Fernandez and Stephen Permanes, all standouts of UAAP champion University of the Philippines, have been invited to the tryouts.
The core of the Negros Occidental side that won the PFF Suzuki Under-23 National Cup, including MVP Aldrin Dolino and top scorer Joshua Beloya, are expected to beef up the team in the next few weeks.
Filipino-Germans Manny Ott, Patrick Hinrichsen and Mark Drinkuth, who are training with the senior side in Germany, are also part of the pool.
Source: Cedelf P. Tupas (Philippine Daily Inquirer)