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Azkals to play shorthanded vs. Singapore in friendly

The Azkals will only have 15 players against Singapore. FAS (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine Azkals will be playing shorthanded in its final assignment in the FAS Tri-Nation Series against host Singapore on Tuesday night at the Singapore National Stadium.

Team manager Dan Palami revealed hours before the 9 p.m. scheduled kickoff that several Azkals have entered the pocket tournament's COVID-19 protocols, leaving the team with only 15 players available.

"The Azkals will go into the Singapore match tonight with a heavily depleted lineup," Palami said in a statement. "Despite the team's best efforts to observe health and safety protocols, several players still contracted the virus in the bubble."

The Azkals already took a COVID-19 hit before the friendly series as striker Gerrit Holtmann was among several Bochum players who entered the club's own protocols in Germany, making him unavailable for the trip to Singapore.

However, this turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Jesse Curran as the midfielder gets the start in what would be his national team debut.

Joining Curran in the starting 11 are Neil Etheridge, Carlie De Murga, Kevin Ingreso, Bienve Maranon, OJ Porteria, Stephan Schrock, Enrique Linares, Diego Bardanca, Mark Hartmann, and Patrick Reichelt.

The four reserves for the match are defender Dylan De Bruycker, defender Harry Foll, and goalkeepers Quincy Kammeraad and Kevin Hansen.

The Azkals could still take the top spot at the end of the FAS Series, but they need to beat Singapore by at least four goals to do so.

Despite the setback, Palami assured the fans that the Azkals will go all out against Singapore.

"These challenges will only motivate us to do our best in representing our country," Palami concluded.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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