Goalkeeper Roland Muller and midfielder Paul Mulders make their return to the national side while young goalkeeper Jun Badelic gets his first senior call-up as coach Thomas Dooley bared his 23-man training squad for the World Cup Qualifying clash against Uzbekistan on Sept. 8 at Philippine Sports Stadium.
A standout in the Swiss League while playing for Geneva-based Servette FC, Muller hasn’t suited up for the Azkals since the friendly against Bahrain last March. He will compete with Neil Etheridge for the starting spot as the Azkals seek their third successive win in the qualifying tournament.
The Azkals are in second spot on goal difference in Group H qualifying behind North Korea after wins over Bahrain (2-1) and Yemen (2-0) last June. The team plays the Maldives in a friendly on Sept. 3 in preparation for the Uzbekistan match.
The top team in the group will move on to the final round of qualifying and also clinch a berth in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Mulders has battled injuries the past couple of years but has made an impact for Ceres La Salle late in the United Football League season to earn the nod of Dooley, ahead of Mark Hartmann.
Rob Gier was also omitted from the squad after the veteran defender ruled himself out due to a knee injury.
Hartmann’s omission comes a day after he struck a hat trick for Global in the 4-1 win against Geylang International in the Singapore Cup quarterfinals.
Phil Younghusband, the country’s top international scorer with 42 goals, will still captain the side.
The rest of the training squad: Misagh Bahadoran, Amani Aguinaldo, Dennis Villanueva, Patrick Deyto, Daisuke Sato, Manny Ott, Patrick Reichelt, Martin Steuble, Juani Guirado, Simone Rota, Kenshiro Daniels, Jerry Lucena, Javier Patino, Stephan Schrock, Iain Ramsay, Stephan Palla, Luke Woodland, Kevin Ingreso.