New Azkals shirt unveiled, plus other Football notes

Puma unveiled the new Azkals jersey on Monday at the Aubergine Restaurant in Fort BGC. The kit will be used at the upcoming Peace Cup in Bacolod.

It's a design culled from a competition held last year, where fans could give their inputs on how the shirt could look like.

Puma replaced Mizuno as the official kit supplier last year, and the Azkals join Italy, the Czech Republic, Ivory Coast, Chile, and Uruguay in a roster of 16 national teams outfitted by the German sportswear giant.

The white home shirt features a blue band on the left chest with a richly embroidered PFF crest on it. There are blue pumas on either sleeve and another one on the right chest. The collar is red.

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The blue away kit goes with a red vertical band on the chest and white pumas on the sleeve. The puma on the chest is red instead of blue, and the collar is blue instead of red.

On both kits there is a mesh material on the chest that is also present along the body of the shirts on the side. The shirts all boast Puma's moisture-wicking DryCell technology and are crafted in Vietnam.

There's a neat touch in the back of the collar, where you'll find three yellow stars that echo the ones on the Philippine flag. They are actually on the inside of the shirt, but I am told that if a player sweats while wearing them, the stars will be visible on the outside.

There are actual shirts for the team and replica jerseys that are available for fans. They are nearly identical, save for the Philippine flag on the left sleeves of the replicas and this patch with a scannable code on the bottom right side of the shirt.

PFF marketing head Ebong Joson says that although both shirts are lightweight, the team's shirt is even more so.

You can have someone give you both shirts on either hand while you're blindfolded and you'll know which one is the team shirt because it's so light.”

In a bit of news that will surely delight fans, the replicas will be available in Puma stores nationwide. The price of the shirt has yet to be determined but Jenna Mijares from Puma Philippines says it will cost under P2000. National team kits from other manufacturers typically sell for P2800 or more.

There were no examples of the team's shorts at the press con and Neil Etheridge admitted that he hasn't seen the goalkeeper kit yet.

I give the new shirt a big thumbs up. Simple, classy, and elegant. And I'm thrilled that it's now readily available for Azkals fans to purchase.

For a fan, there is nothing like wearing a team jersey to show his love and commitment for his team” said Joson.

***

I had a quick chat with Patrick Reichelt, who is playing for Thailand second-tier side Singhtarua. The Fil-German Azkal says the team's sponsors will pull out if the side isn't promoted to the first tier, where they usually are. The team has three games to go and lies third in the table. Reichelt says the fans of the club are very passionate and that when 3,000 of them traveled for an away game, there was some violence.

Reichelt, who starts for Singhtarua at right wing, says he and the other foreigners on the club could be out of contract with the side if the team isn't promoted.

***

Mark Hartmann, the U23 Azkals captain, is as upset as anyone over his team's exclusion from the SEA Games.

But who IS a sure gold medal?” he moaned when told about the criteria for their being yanked off the list of delegates.

It's a shame because in the next SEA Games (in 2015) the most experienced players (Jeff Christiaens, Jason De Jong) won't be eligible to play” he adds.

Hartmann is just 21 and will be able to suit up in 2015. That is, if the POC and PSC decide to send a team.

***

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The next upcoming Azkal was presented to the media on Monday. Filipino-Swiss Martin Steuble is a 25-year old who plays center mid for Swiss 2nd-tier side FC Wil, located in the canton of Sankt Gallen.

Steuble has yet to acquire his Filipino citizenship but will be working on it. He'll be accompanying the squad to Bacolod, which also happens to be the home province of his mother.

Former Azkal goalie coach Pascal Zuberbuhler is credited with referring Steuble to the team.

Follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333.

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