|Photo courtesy of the PFF.|
As per the AFF guidelines, the PFF released the provisional pool of 35 players a month before the start of the Suzuki Cup, as reported here. What I will do now is expound on the selections and see where we will go from here to Friday, when we will whittle that number down to 22, 20 of which are eligible to play. This is after all the friendlies have been played from June all the way to the just-concluded one in Cebu.
Goalkeepers: Ref Cuaresma, Neil Etheridge, Roland Muller, Ed Sacapano
This is arguably a position of strength for the Philippines, with solid options all around. Availability is the biggest issue, with status of Neil and Roland still up in the air, although it looks slim for the latter with reports that their regular keeper being out until Christmas. However, both Ed and Ref have stepped up nicely in the action that they have seen, whether for club and country. Neil and Ed also were present in 2010, so they are familiar with the conditions.
Defenders: Dennis Cagara, Rob Gier, Juan Luis Guirado, Ray Jonsson, Carlie de Murga, Jason Sabio
Dennis has received his clearance from Karlsruher SC to play in this competition, considering he has not figured with the lineup that is currently on a roll in the 3. Bundesliga. Injuries are the proverbial woe in this group, from Rob's hamstrings to Juani's knee to Jason's groin and now, Carlie's meniscus, which caused him to miss the friendly against Singapore. This is already to add to the knee issues that has bothered and kept reigning skipper Aly Borromeo on the sidelines. That is why it is encouraging that Rob and Juani were able to play the entire match against Singapore. A very solid unit, which will be put to the test against the best Southeast Asia can offer.
Midfielders: Marvin Angeles, Marwin Angeles, Jason De Jong, Anto Gonzales, Chris Greatwich, Jerry Lucena, Nestorio Margarse, Jr., Lexton Moy, Paul Mulders, Manny Ott, Matthew Uy
There are two sets of midfielders in this group. One set is composed of the defensive-oriented guys (Jason, Anto, Jerry, Nestorio, Lexton and Matthew) while the rest are the creators / facilitators. For the first group, Jerry reportedly was only given clearance as of the moment for only one match, the group stage fixture against Vietnam, while no details have been made available as for Manny. Most of the defensive guys are pretty similar, especially when you look into their respective roles with their clubs. It's a matter of taste or fit with regards to the selection. It can be said that Jason is probably playing the best out of those similar guys. As for offense, the twins have handled the midfield role well, with Marwin being a little bit better than Marvin. Chris is best known for his 2010 heroics, while Paul best helps with the attack and with feeding the people up front, especially with his capabilities.
Wingers: Misagh Bahadoran, Emelio Caligdong, Jeff Christiaens, OJ Porteria, Demit Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt, Stephan Schrock, James Younghusband
Although Stephan is most likely unavailable for the competition, this is a solid unit anchored on its two skippers, Chieffy and James. The 2010 veterans will lead a group of young and talented players led by the PFPC sensations and Global FC teammates Christiaens, Omphroy as the wingbacks and on the right wing by Reichelt on the moments when JYH was unavailable. OJ showed promise until an illness sidelined him, while Misagh also has been a trusty sub, but he is currently rehabbing from an injury that caused him to miss the friendly in Cebu.
Forwards: Ian Araneta, Joshua Beloya, Angel Guirado, Mark Hartmann, Denis Wolf, Phil Younghusband
Interesting new wrinkle being introduced by Weiss during their match against Singapore, where Phil was doing a little more distribution. But any chance of progressing in the competition will need the UFL Golden Boot winner to do some work in putting balls into the net. In his absence due to those moments of unavailability, Denis Wolf has stepped in and in fact, won a competition with his effort. Angel has reportedly secured his club's clearance for his participation in this competition, who has been the beneficiary of his offensive production in spite of the team's struggles in the I-League. Being recalled into the national team pool is an encouraging sign for both Mark and Joshua, while Ian has already announced that this is the end of the road for him in his international career.
I ask you now this question: Who do you want to be in your Suzuki Cup 22?