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Bahrainis test Azkals mettle

It’s something we have to deal with, and we have other players who have chances to show themselves

BIENVENIDO Marañon is tipped to provide firepower when the Philippine Azkals battle Bahrain in a friendly duel. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PFF

With its eyes on the FIFA World Cup, the national men’s football team battles Bahrain in a friendly match on Wednesday at the Sheikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium in Arad, Bahrain.

Action is set at 12 midnight (Manila time) with the Azkals looking to gain experience and develop chemistry that they need for the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers this November.

The Azkals will battle Vietnam on 16 November at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex before confronting the winner between Indonesia and Brunei on 21 November.

The Azkals, ranked No. 132 in the latest FIFA ranking, is tipped to be pushed to the limit as they battle the No. 86 Bahrainis right on their home turf.

They, however, are coming off a 1-0 win over Kyrgyzstan last Sunday in an unofficial friendly match with Kaya FC-Iloilo defender Audie Menzi scoring the lone goal in the 71st minute.

The Filipinos are expected to bank on goalkeeper Neil Etheridge while defenders Menzi and Santi Rublico also set to shore up the defense.

Forwards Bienvenido Marañon and Kenshiro Daniels will be expected to supply the firepower for the Azkals with midfielders such as Sandro Reyes and Manny and Mike Ott dictating the tempo.

These fixtures give Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss a good idea of who will be their best bets for the second round of the World Cup qualifiers.

“It’s something we have to deal with, and we have other players who have chances to show themselves. It’s my job, you know, to create a larger roster to be prepared for any situation,” Weiss said.

“I need to get a clear picture of who is available and who might be an interesting player in the future.”

The Azkals will be on the lookout for Bahraini forward Ali Madan, who scored 10 goals for his national team in 51 matches.

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