International Watch: Mendoza In 25 Man Azkals Squad For Singapore Tourney

Posted at 02:00h in THE VOICE OF CITY BOYS 


Kuala Lumpur City’s No.1 goalkeeper, Mendoza, has been summoned by his national team, the Philippines, for the 2022 Tri-Nations Series organised by the Football Association of Singapore, from March 23-29, 2022 in the city-state, 


In an announcement made by the Philippines Football Federation on their website last Saturday, the Azkals’ head coach, Englishman Stewart Hall, selected 19 overseas-based players, with 5 players plying their trade in Europe, 8 in the Thai League, 1 in the Cambodian Premier League and 5 Malaysian Football League. Locally, the 63-year-old, who has been in charge of the Filipinos since the Asean Football Federation’s (AFF) Suzuki Cup tournament last December in Singapore, selected 3 players from the Philippines Football League and 2 more from the Azkals Development Squad. There was 1 unsigned player included in the list as well.


Mendoza, who is of Dane-Filipino heritage, broke into the Azkals team last year, in fact, during that Suzuki Cup tournament, and he emerged as the second most impressive goalkeeper with 18 saves, just 2 saves behind the top-ranked Hassan Sunny of Singapore. The 27-year-old’s performances then, earned him the plaudits from the AFF hierarchy, as a nominee for the breakout star award.


Mendoza, who’s into his second season with the City Boys, is one of the 3 goalkeepers called up for this assignment. However, the favourite to start would be his teammate Neil Etheridge, who plays with Birmingham City, the English Football Championship side, who missed the Philippines’ campaign during the Suzuki Cup last year.


They were third place in a group that contained eventual champions Thailand, hosts Singapore and Myanmar, with two wins and two losses, their victories coming against Myanmar and Timor Leste, while they lost narrowly to Thailand and Singapore, with the same scoreline of 1-2.


The Philippines will open the Tri-Nations Series against Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, and they will end on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, against the hosts Singapore. Both matches are at the National Stadium.


Mendoza is expected to arrive directly in Singapore on March 21, 2022. Considering that the opener is only two days later, it suggests that the Philippines would not be having proper centralised training sessions like Malaysia and Singapore are undergoing, possibly being the most underprepared team for the tourney. If Zhafri is picked into Malaysia’s final squad, then it will be the City Boys hitting the Lion City!


The Tri-Nations Series has been organised as part of preparations for the third round of the 2023 Asia Cup qualifying games coming up in June 2022. Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines are out of the race for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but they are still competing for a place in next year’s continental showpiece in China.