Pinoy booters upbeat in ASEAN tilt

THERE’S a new air of confidence among players and officials of the Philippine football team seeing action in its first major international tournament this year in the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Championship Qualifiers in Vientiane, Laos.

The RP booters yesterday expressed optimism of a strong showing in the four-nation tournament from Oct. 22-29.

“We have a team that is ready to redeem Philippine football,” said team manager Dan Palami at the weekly PSA Forum at the Shakey’s U.N. Avenue in Manila.

Palami said the national squad, which will be beefed up by at least six foreign-based players with Filipino roots, has left no stone unturned in its preparations for the tournament, where the RP booters will meet Timor Leste, Laos and Cambodia.

The top two teams from the qualifying event will move into the main tournament in Vietnam and Indonesia.

The top team in the qualifier will join Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, while the runner-up will be grouped with Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar.

“We’re not just there to participate but to win,” said Simon McMenemy, the new English coach of the national squad, who has served in various capacities in top clubs in England.

“The preparations have been superb the past 10 months. We have evolved as a team. The players are fit, willing to play for each other, fight for each other and assist each other,” added McMenemy, who took the head coaching job last month, replacing another Englishman, Des Bulpin, now working with the India Under-19 squad.

Also at the forum supported by Outlast Battery, Shakey’s Pizza and PAGCOR were RP team co-captains Chiefy Caligdong and Aly Borromeo, who echoed McMenemy’s sentiments, saying that the morale in the club has never been higher.

The national pool also includes Fil-British players Rob Gier, Neil Etheridge and Phil and James Younghusband, Filipino-Dutch Jason de Jong, Filipino-Germans Manuel Ott and Stephan Schrock and Ray Jonnson, who plays top-flight football in Iceland.

The other members of the squad are Ian Araneta, Yanti Bersales, Eduard Sacapano, Jerry Barbaso, Kristopher Relucio, Anton del Rosario, Ruel Gener, Mark Ferrer, Peter Jaugan Reymark Palmes, Nestor Margarse, Michael Atienza, Jose Alfie Caminos, Christopher Camcam and Gino Angerlo Pavone.

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