By Adrian Stewart Co
Negrense Shanden Vergara was included in Philippine U-23 Azkals team that will compete in the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup Group H qualification matches at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore from October 25 to 31.
The San Carlos City, Negros Occidental-native Vergara was one of the players named by the Philippine Football Federation to its 22-man roster for the week-long qualifiers.
Vergara was a former member of De La Salle University Green Archers men’s football team before being recruited to play for Lincoln Memorial University in United States.
Apart from Vergara, also named in the U-23 Azkals team to be mentored by Scott Cooper were Oliver Bias, Mark Winhoffer, Quincy Kammeraad, and Justin Baas.
Also tapped were Christian Rontini, Dennis Chung, Jethro Borlongan, Yrick Gallantes, Mandy Ignacio, Oskari Kekkonen, Sandro Reyes, Mark Francis Swainston, and Ivan Ouano.
Jessie Semblante, Enrico Mangaoang, Paolo Niccola Perez, David Kevin Setters, Nathan Rilloraza, Kieran Hayes, Miguel Antonio Mendoza, and Jens Sebastian Rasmussen capped off the rest of the lineup.
The U-23 Azkals go up against South Korea on October 25, 5:00 pm; host nation Singapore on October 28, 8:00 pm; and Timor Leste on October 31, 5:00 pm.
The U-23 Azkals need to finish on top of Group H to formally qualify for the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup tentatively slated from June 1 to 19, 2022 in Uzbekistan.
A second-placed finish in the group might be good enough provided that the national men’s football team finishes in the top four of the runner-up standings.
The team prepared for the tournament by conducting a bubble setup at Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa, Batangas before flying to Doha, Qatar to finish their preparations./ASC, WDJ