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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Homegrown players to form backbone of Philippine Azkals

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FOR now, homegrown players from the collegiate ranks will form the backbone of the Philippine national men’s football team.

New Azkals’ coach Tom Saintfiet said this as he continues to get a glimpse of Philippine football in the last two weeks that he has been in country.

With  players from overseas not expected to get slots in the national squad in the coming days, Saintfiet said he will make his decision on who will comprise the squad when they start holding training camps and open tryouts this Friday.

“We will prepare these players for the time that they are accepted and the coaches we have will see who are good enough,” said Saintfiet, who has been visiting games  of the ongoing  University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s football tournament.

Tom Saintfiet (PFF)

Santfiet’s presence at the University of the Philippines-Diliman turf gave him an idea of what to expect of the national pool that he is forming.

A pool of five squads will be formed as Saintfiet and his group of coaches make their choices.

“We will work with the local players and have three to five teams in training camps. From there, we screen and select the players,” added Sainfiet, who is from Belgium.

Saintfiet took over from Hans Michael Weiss in mid-February, after quitting as the head coach of the Gambian national squad last January.

Last month, the 50-year old Saintfiet stepped down as Gambia’s coach after his team’s dramatic exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Saintfiet quit after the Gambian Scorpions sustained a 3-2 loss to Cameroon in their final game in Group C, with the setback leaving  his team in bottom of the group.

“There are some local (Filipino) players, who took years before they were able to play overseas,” noted Sainfiet.

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