Azkals take on Singapore in Cebu

The Philippine Azkals clash with Singapore in the final tune up game before the Suzuki Cup kicks off in a week and a half.

The setting is a new one for the National Team; the Abellana Field at the Cebu City Sports Center.

It will be a special game for Ray Jonsson, who was born in Cebu and lived here as a child. He told me that he expects several dozens of relatives to come out and watch play.

Patrick Reichelt, whose mother hails from Argao town, is also expecting relatives to attend.

A third Cebuano, Paolo Pascual, is the reserve goalkeeper behind starter Ed Sacapano.

It will be the second meeting for the teams this year. Last September the Azkals got the first ever win in the fixture on Singaporean soil when they stunned the Lions 2-0 at the Jurong West stadium thanks to goals by Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband. It was the first win by the Philippines against Singapore in forty years.

[RELATED: Singapore 0, Philippines 2 Postgame Thoughts]

The Philippines has a six-game unbeaten streak in home games played in the Visayas since 2006 that they will look to extend. That streak has been played out in three different venues: Iloilo City Sports Center, Barotac Nuevo Plaza Field, and Panaad Park in Bacolod.

Singapore is also preparing for the Suzuki Cup and will be playing in a group with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos.

They recently drew Myanmar 1-1 in Yangon and last month defeated India 2-0.

They are captained by 28-year old Shahril Ishak. Leading their attack will be naturalized Bosnian Aleksandar Duric.

Duric, 42 years old, missed the September match due to injury but will look to add to his tally of 22 goals for his country.

Singapore has one more tuneup remaining before the Suzuki Cup; a game against Pakistan.

Missing from the Azkals lineup will be Misagh Bahadoran and Carli De Murga. Bahadoran has an injury to his thigh while De Murga has a sore Iliotibial Band on his right knee. Both were at the final training on Wednesday night but did not join the rest of their team mates in the drills and scrimmage, instead performing their own exercises.

Jason Sabio did play in the scrimmages and is working towards getting to 100% match fitness. He told me that he feels alright but that he is being careful not to strain his groin further.

Dan Palami has told me that because they played for Loyola in the UFL Cup semifinals last Tuesday and could be a bit weary, the Younghusband brothers will begin the game on the bench.

[RELATED: Global, Stallion seal UFL Cup final showdown]

With De Murga out Ray Jonsson will take over at right wing, and the center backs will be Rob Gier and Juani Guirado. That means that three of the back four will be over thirty years old.

Jason De Jong will likely start as a holding midfielder and Chieffy Caligdong on the left wing, Demit Omphroy at right wing and Chris Greatwich as the attacking mid.

Greatwich informed me that he is not yet sure of his availability for the Suzuki Cup. If he were to play Azkals fans would love to see his heroics in the 2010 event replicated. Two years ago he scored a late equalizer against Singapore and then scored the first goal in the historic win over Vietnam in Hanoi.

The Philippines will rely on Denis Wolf and Patrick Reichelt up top to threaten the Singaporean defense. Both Wolf and Reichelt play for Global, Dan Palami's UFL team, and did not see action in the semifinal win versus Loyola.

The team scrimmaged on Wednesday night in the immaculate Abellana field, with the starters winning 1-0 thanks to a first half goal from Caligdong.

Ian Araneta, who recently announced that he will retire from International play after this Suzuki Cup, may also see action late in the game.

You can follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333.

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.

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