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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Reconstructing PH football team continues, says coach

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REBUILDING the Philippine national men’s football team will continue following its 0-5 loss to Iraq in their FIFA World Cup 2026 Asian Qualifying encounter last week at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Coach Tom Saintfiet said he will now seek out the inclusion of Europe-based players in the squad in the coming months.

“We can develop the team on this path. We have been in contact with a lot of foreign-based play at a high level,” said Saintfiet.

This includes Gerrit Holtmann, a Fil-German winger for Bundesliga club Darmstadt 98, who is on loan from VfL Bochum.

There’s also 21-year-old Sandro Reyes, who played in the national youth team before recently becoming an attacking midfielder for Regionalliga Bayern club Greuther Fürth II in Germany.

Efforts to seek out Denmark-born Sebastian Rasmussen are also in the works.

The Denmark-born Rasmussen, who plays as a forward for Danish 1st Division club Hobro, has seen action for the Philippines thrice in the past.

Saintfiet felt that there were a lot of courageous players in their encounter with Iraq.

For one, there’s Santiago Rublico, who threatened to score in the 20th minute when he came down left, before moving the ball onto his right foot to unleash a shot from 20 yards, with the ball soaring  across the face of goalie Jalal Hassan.

Rublico, who plays for Athletico Madrid, had his second chance in the first half when he  received a pass on the left, wove past a defender, and tried to go for a  powerful shot into the right corner, but Ali Jasim Elaibi  deflected it.

 “We tried to play more football and have more possession. There’s Rublico who had two good chances with shots, and lots other players like Gayoso, coming in with goals,” said Saintfiet.

With their fourth straight win in Group F, Iraq coasted to  the third round of preliminaries for the FIFA World Cup 2026.

The Philippines now has a 0-1-3 win-draw-loss record at the bottom of the standings.

Team Pilipinas will be back on June 6, for  a home  game with  Vietnam, while Iraq plays on the same day, against the visiting Indonesian side.

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