By Karl Decena
On its first practice of the year conducted Monday, the Philippine national men’s football team featured five new faces who were surprisingly part of its training at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Striker Tating Pasilan, defender Reynald Villareal, goalkeeper Patrick Deyto and midfielders Arnie Pasinabo and Ronnie Aguisanda – all members of the Green Archers United Globe in the United Football League – joined the Azkals as they prepare for the 2014 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in March.
Pasilan, a two-time member of the squad five years ago, and Deyto, who was called up in the Azkals’ friendly match against Guam last year, admitted that they are thrilled to join the national team again, at least in practices. However, they don’t see themselves as full-time members of the team as of now.
“Pag-isipan muna kung tuloy-tuloy kasi trabaho. Two days ko nang naiwanan trabaho ko,” said Pasilan, who also works as a football coach at the De La Salle University system.
Meanwhile, Deyto, who plays for La Salle in the UAAP, hopes to spend more time with the Azkals if given the chance when the collegiate football season ends early this year.
“I just graduated this December so I cannot commit fully to the trainings,” Deyto said. “I just have to finish the UAAP until early March, and after that, if they call me up, I’ll be there to train and train.”
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss has long stressed the importance of his players’ commitment to the national team, which includes attending practices.
“The public doesn’t know that these guys don’t show up in training,” Weiss said. “Some come sometimes in training, and then they say, ‘we have no chance’ or cry around ‘the training is hard.’”
The German coach cited as an example Azkals goalkeeper Eduard Sacapaño, who stepped up in the absence of foreign-based keepers Neil Etheridge and Roland Mueller in their semifinal run in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup last year.
“Look Sacapaño, he is always there, always there and he played a fantastic tournament,” Weiss said. “If Etheridge and Mueller are not around, it’s absolutely not a problem and not an extreme drop in quality.”
Despite that, Weiss hopes that he can lure more locally-based players in the team.
“We already have strong people here in the Philippines,” Weiss said. “We want to have them for training, maybe we can still develop something.”