After more than six decades of trying, the Azkals are in the Asian Cup for the very first time. Mike Romero/Dugout Philippines (file)
MANILA--Debuting in the AFC Asian Cup next year, the Philippines submitted on Thursday its 23-man squad with a notable omission from arguably its best player.
It took the basketball-mad nation 63 years in trying to qualify for the premier football tournament in the world's largest continent before succeeding by the skin of their teeth last Holy Tuesday.
Coming off from their semifinal exit in the AFF championship, Sven-Göran Eriksson's Azkals, with an average age of 28, will bank on experience led by the Younghusband brothers, who had 205 out of the 608 caps between them, with the goalkeeping duo of Kaya Iloilo's Ace Villanueva and Kevin Ray Hansen of Denmark's Horsens being the debutantes.
The Younghusbands bring their 13-year career with the Azkals in Dubai for their Asian Cup debut. Dennis Jerome Acosta/Dugout Philippines (file)
Erzgebirge Aue's John-Patrick Strauss is the team's youngest at 22, while Paul Mulders will be the second eldest player at the continental showcase at 37.
Neil Etheridge, however will have to wait for four more years for his shot at the Asian Cup, after Cardiff won the tug-of-war on him for the new year. PFF photo/file
The 17th-place Bluebirds are only three points clear of the drop zone, a win ahead of Burnley.
Before they make their bow in the Asian Cup against last editions' finalist South Korea on the first Monday of 2019 in Group C play, the Azkals test their final squad against the reigning ASEAN kings Vietnam on New Year's Eve.
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