The Azkals 23-man squad list for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 has just been recently released by the Philippine Football Federation with some notable absences and surprise, yet welcome, inclusions.
With several discussions already hovering around regarding the selection itself, we focus on the 23 men on the list, but this will not just be about any usual topic – we focus on their preferred brand of boots and the most probable models (provided there won’t be changes in their sponsorship or switches in their preferences as of this writing) that they will consider as their main boots of choice during the course of the continental tournament.
Note: This is not an endorsement of any sorts, but just a fun feature as service to the fans and football enthusiasts who are into cleats and equipment.
Michael Falkesgaard – Role: Goalkeeper; Club: Bangkok United [Thailand]
The main keeper of Thai League 1’s Bangkok United will most definitely be the first choice of Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson to man between the posts for the Filipinos’ biggest campaign yet in their history as a national team.
A very capable keeper in place of Neil Etheridge’s absence due to club commitments, the Azkals will need Michael Falkesgaard’s safe hands to keep the rivals’ attempts at bay.
Michael’s recent equipment – Boots: Adidas; Model: X 18.1; Gloves: Select
Kevin Ray Mendoza Hansen – Role: Goalkeeper; Club: AC Horsens [Denmark]
Kevin Ray Hansen will be the newest player to receive a call-up for the Azkals for major competition. The shot-stopper currently plays in the Danish Superliga for AC Horsens where he was able to currently amass five appearances in the current season.
The 24-year-old may have a strong resume being a regular in a European topflight to earn him a call-up, but he has a lot to prove once he’s given the opportunity to step onto the pitch. Here’s hoping that he pulls out a stellar debut.
Kevin Ray’s recent equipment – Boots: Nike; Model: Vapor 360 Elite ; Gloves: Uhlsport
Nathanael Ace Villanueva – Role: Goalkeeper; Club: Kaya FC Iloilo
A stellar performance as a starting sentry during Kaya FC’s triumphant domestic league cup campaign, Ace Villanueva finally earned his call-up to the Azkals ahead of the Asian Cup 2019 tournament.
His role will most probably be as one of the goalkeeping options off the bench, but the fact that he has been considered to be in the squad is a testament to his club achievements and ever increasing reputation as a reliable stopper.
Ace’s possible equipment – Boots: Adidas Predator 18.1; Gloves: Adidas Predator Pro
Carli De Murga – Role: Defender; Club: Ceres-Negros FC
A versatile defender whether as a centre-back or right-back, De Murga has been one a regular starter whether for club or country.
At club level he has helped Ceres Negros win their back-to-back championship in the recently concluded domestic league while contributing to the Busmen’s run to the zonal final in the 2018 AFC Cup.
He will most probably be one of the key players at the back for the Azkals in the Asian Cup.
Carli’s boots: Nike Tiempo Legend VII Elite
Paul Mulders – Role: Defender; Club: Ceres-Negros FC
At 37-years-old, Paul Mulders is the kuya of this squad. But his experience and quality will definitely be a big contribution to the team if there comes a situation that Coach Sven will call him into the lineup either as a starter or a substitute.
Originally an attacking midfielder during his playing years in the Netherlands, Paul Mulders possesses the versatility to take on other positions and for the AFC Asian Cup, he is assigned a defensive role.
Despite his advanced age, in relation to footballers’ career years, Mulders still seems to be in great shape and he could surely provide that brilliance in bursts during the course of a match.
Paul Mulders’ recent boots on-pitch: Nike Mercurial Vapor IX, Nike Mercurial Vapor XI
Stephan Palla – Role: Defender; Club: Buriram United [Thailand]
Stephan Palla, currently of Buriram United, adds to the defensive quality of the Azkals given his experience in the Austrian footballing system.
Playing mainly as a left-back, he is set to compete for position with Daisuke Sato. But Palla could also complement with him given that the Sepsi OSK stalwart can play further up front as a left midfielder.
Whatever the case, Stephan Palla will definitely have his plate full facing up against Asia’s best if he gets head coach Eriksson’s nod to step onto the pitch.
Stephan Palla’s recent preferred boots: Nike Mercurial Vapor XII Elite
Alvaro Silva – Role: Defender ; Club: Kedah FC [Malaysia]
One of the more experienced players in the Azkals’ squad in terms of club experience, 34-year-old centre-back Alvaro Silva’s debut in the AFF Suzuki Cup against Thailand have shown his wealth of experience providing the solidity and calmness at the backline that helped the Philippines survive the group stage.
This time, he will once again play a big role in the defensive end as the Azkals hope to come out with a commendable performance in the continental stage.
Alvaro’s choice of boots: Nike; Model: Hypervenom
Daisuke Sato – Role: Defender; Club – Sepsi OSK Sfantu Gheorghe [Romania]
One of the two outfield players of the Azkals who are based in Europe, Daisuke Sato’s tenacity has been one of his strengths.
A natural left-back who will not hesitate to take on a new challenge to take on a new role if required by his coach (as evidenced by his switch as a left midfielder against Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup group stage match), Sato will be one of the players to watch as one of the conduits from defence to attack.
Daisuke Sato’s equipment of choice: Adidas; Models: X18.1 Spectral Mode, X17 + Purespeed
Adam Tull – Role: Defender; Club: [formerly] Davao Aguilas FC
One of Davao Aguilas’ stalwarts in defence during the recently concluded domestic league that saw the club come up with a much improved campaign in what turned out to be their final season as a professional club, Adam Tull will once again be in the thick of things in defence for the Azkals if given the nod to start or step onto the pitch.
Adam Tull’s cleats: Adidas, Model: X18.1
Luke Woodland – Role: Defender; Club – Buriram United [Thailand]
The versatile defender who can play multiple positions (centre-back, defensive midfielder) despite being primarily a right-back suffered an injury in the early part of the match against Singapore that prematurely ended his participation in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
But he can put an end to that disappointing stint as he gets another shot this time in the bigger AFC Asian Cup, where he can really show and shine for the Azkals in the continental showdown. The 23-year-old will definitely one to look out for as the Philippines aim to get a good run of results in their tournament debut.
Wearing Nike in recent past, it seems Luke Woodland is now rocking the three stripes on the pitch as shown in a preseason fixture with Buriram United.
Luke Woodland’s boots: Adidas Model: X18.1
Kevin Ingreso – Role: Midfielder; Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Kevin Ingreso technically was the man who booked the Azkals to the Asian Cup after redeeming himself from a defensive error and scoring the equaliser against Tajikistan in the final qualifying match before Phil Younghusband erased the doubts by scoring the winner via penalty.
Whether as a starter or from the bench, Kevin will be tasked to be one of the creators from the middle of the park with his vision, playmaking and ability to score in lean situations.
Kevin Ingreso’s boots: Nike, Models: Mercurial Vapor XI, Mercurial Vapor IX
Manuel “Manny” Ott – Role: Midfielder; Club: Ceres-Negros FC
A playmaker for Ceres-Negros FC, Manny Ott is one of the crucial pieces of the Azkals in this AFC Asian Cup campaign.
His fitness due to a minor foot injury might have hampered him in the semifinal of the recently concluded Suzuki Cup, but with him hopefully fully fit for the Asian Cup, his ability to create scoring chances – even score himself – will be essential to the Azkals’ chances to come up with a surprising run.
Manny Ott’s boots: Luxury Nike Mercurial Superfly V
Mike Ott – Role: Midfielder, Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Whether as a winger or support striker, Mike Ott’s ability to score is undeniable and he definitely is an asset for the Azkals this campaign in the United Arab Emirates.
A purposeful attacker who can deceive defences, he can be an ever-present threat in favour of the Philippines.
Mike Ott’s possible boots: Nike Phantom Vision Elite, Adidas adizero F50
Stephan Schrock – Role: Midfielder, Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Definitely one of the undisputed stars of this Philippine Azkals team, Stephan Schrock has the experience and the ability to change the course of the match through his influence and moment of inspiration from either side of the midfield.
He can carve out defences by himself with his dribbling ability but from a team standpoint, his ability to pick out his teammates up front with precise and well-weighted passes always are things that his team’s strikers will be thankful to work with. Also it should be mentioned his penchant to pull-off something spectacular when the the Azkals are struggling to find a groove in the offensive end.
Along with Stephan Schrock’s undeniable qualities, it is to note that he has possibly the most array of footballing boots in this bunch of players. He’s Nike through and through but his cleats are quite a number.
Stephan Schrock’s array of armaments by Nike: Mercurial Vapor XII Elite, Tiempo Legend III, Vapor XI Puro Fenomeno, Phantom Vision Elite [and possibly more!]
John-Patrick Strauss – Role: Midfielder, Club: Erzgebirge Aue [Germany]
Defensive midfielder, John-Patrick Strauss, who currently plays in the 2. Bundesliga with Erzgebirge Aue has been a revelation for the Azkals during the recently concluded 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Only 22-years-old, he still has a lot of mileage left in him and it showed as he was able to show pace, stamina and impetus from deep in the middle of the pitch towards initiating attacking plays. However, just as when the Suzuki Cup got serious, his stint came to an end as he was recalled for club duty that made him miss out the semifinal clash against Vietnam.
This time, though, he will be available for the Azkals for the Asian Cup and it’s highly probable that he will feature as a starter for Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
John-Patrick Strauss’ go-to cleats: Nike Mercurial Superfly 360 Elite
Miguel Javier Tanton – Role: Midfielder, Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Miguel Tanton finally gets a deserved call-up for an entire tournament after earning only one appearance for the Azkals last 2016 in a World Cup qualifier match against North Korea.
Despite that commendable performance, where he was able to provide an audacious back-heel assist for the equaliser, it’s hard to believe that he wasn’t able to feature more for the national team after that.
A tenacious player whose grafting and no-nonsense demeanour mostly overcasts the flair, playmaking and creativity that he possesses as a midfielder, it is high time that Miguel Tanton gets his call-up in the biggest tournament that the Azkals are going to participate in.
Miguel Tanton’s cleats: Nike Mercurial Vapor
James Younghusband – Role: Midfielder, Club: Davao Aguilas FC
The only other centurion [player who amassed at least 100 appearances] for the Azkals, James Younghusband is one of the most experienced players in the squad.
A versatile midfielder who can be tenacious in a testy affair, at the same time, an effective contributor at both ends of the pitch James’ ability to influence a match just by his presence and the way he draws the opposing defence to himself opens up attacking chances for his teammates.
His greatest strength in the offensive end is his ability to score as a target man during set-pieces.
James’ most recent on-pitch cleats: Adidas; Models: X18.1 and Ace 16.1
Jovin Bedic – Role: Forward, Club: Kaya FC Iloilo
Jovin Bedic definitely is at the highest point at the moment of his career. One of the only two homegrown talents in the current Azkals lineup [along with Ace Villanueva who also is from Kaya], his goalscoring ability has been proven in the international stage when he scored the equaliser against Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
But even before that, he also scored the only goal for Kaya during the final of the domestic league cup that booked his club a place in the 2019 AFC Cup.
Now, in the AFC Asian Cup, Jovin Bedic could once again have the opportunity to keep this run of scoring big goals at the right moment as he represents his hometown province of Iloilo at the continental stage in football.
Jovin Bedic’s most recent choice of on-pitch cleats: Nike Mercurial Vapor XII Elite ‘Meu Jogo’, Nike Mercurial Vapor XII 360 Elite
Curt Dizon – Role: Forward, Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Curt Dizon is one of the most promising strikers for the Azkals. His goalscoring exploits have already been shown during his tenure with Global Cebu FC and, more recently, with Ceres Negros.
Although he might come off as a substitute just as his role in the recent Suzuki Cup campaign, what he can offer to the Azkals’ frontline can still come in handy.
Good with the ball at his feet, and with the ability to pounce on the opportunity to score goals, Curt Dizon is definitely a plus to have up front.
Curt Dizon’s boots: Nike Hypervenom Phantom 3
Javier Patino – Role: Forward; Club: Buriram United [Thailand]
Javier Patino, barring injuries, arguably is the best offensive weapon that the Philippine Azkals have.
It’s not just through his goalscoring that makes him a danger man but also his ability to execute quick decisions and pick his teammates up front to lay off the ball for a better scoring opportunity is what makes him a truly effective forward.
As a striker, he possesses a certain cunning and cool finishing that makes him a highly rated competitor.
Javier Patino’s most recent cleats on the pitch: Adidas Copa 18.1
Iain Ramsay – Role: Forward, Club: Sukhothai FC [Thailand]
One of the Azkals’ best wingers, Ramsay’s pace and ability to pick-out strikers through his crosses makes him one of the main providers of chances.
Before his move to Sukhothai, he played for Felda United where he helped the club gain promotion to Malaysia’s top-flight by winning the Malaysian Premier League.
Expect that steady supply of threatening balls from him at the left flank, and if chances are lean, Iain can make himself available to create a chance for himself by taking the opportunity and unleashing a shot at goal.
Iain’s recent cleats: Nike Mercurial Vapor XII 360 Elite
Patrick Reichelt – Role: Forward, Club: Ceres-Negros FC
Patrick Reichelt is the most in-form striker at the moment, his two goals in the AFF Suzuki Cup are the evidences. In a campaign where chances were few, only Reichelt was able to score two goals for the Philippines.
Here’s hoping that the Ceres-Negros forward could bring and keep up the same level of scoring form in the AFC Asian Cup.
A mercurial forward who operates from the right flank, Patrick Reichelt’s ability to bring the ball into the opposition’s box and either unleash a shot or provide a killer pass for one of his strike partners will be his main arsenals in this continental campaign.
Patrick Reichelt’s weapon of choice: Nike Mercurial Vapor XII Elite
Phil Younghusband – Role: Forward, Club: Davao Aguilas FC
The Philippines’ other centurion, and the one with the most number of competitive appearances with 105 and the most number of goals ever for his country with 52, Phil is stepping into the AFC Asian Cup as the Philippine Azkals’ living legend.
Having a remarkable career for the national team, the 31-year-old striker will definitely have all the motivation to further his achievements by probably reaching another milestone while helping his team get to greater heights.
So what’s does Phil Younghusband have on his feet in the Asian Cup? Well he’s had quite a significant time when it comes to his partnership with Adidas [even past models – whether original release or reissues], so he’ll be wearing them and, hopefully, score goals with the three stripes.
Phil’s most recent cleats: Adidas X 18.1 Energy Mode, Adidas Predator Lethal Zones 2 [2013 model]
That’s it! Those are the most recent cleats of the Azkals who will go to the United Arab Emirates to compete in the Asian Cup 2019.
Do you fancy some of their cleats?
Photo credits: AFF Suzuki Cup, The Azkals, Buriram United Facebook Page, Kaya FC Iloilo Facebook page, Adam Tull Instagram page, Kevin Ray Mendoza Instagram page