Kuala Lumpur City’s No. 1 shot stopper, Mendoza has been named as one of the goalkeepers for the Philippines’ upcoming campaign in the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Asian Cup qualifying rounds from June 8-14 in Mongolia.
In a posting at the Philippines Football Federation’s website yesterday (Saturday), Mendoza who is of Dane-Filipino heritage, was amongst 24 men chosen by new head coach Thomas Dooley, who recently joined on May 25, 2022 for his second stint with the Azkals, taking over the reins from Englishman Scott Cooper who resigned just three days earlier. Half of the squad consists of overseas-based players, with 2 plying their trade in Europe, 1 in the J-League, 5 in the Thai League, 1 in the Cambodian Premier League and 3 (including Mendoza) in the Malaysian Super League.
Dooley’s appointment has injected plenty of enthusiasm amongst Filipinos once again. His first period in charge from March 2014 to March 2018, saw them gaining Asian Cup qualification for the first time in history.
The other goalkeepers called up for the Azkals second assignment of the year following February’s Tri-Nations Series in Singapore, are highly experienced Neil Etheridge, who plays for Birmingham City and uncapped 24 year old Anthony Pinthus, who features for United City in the Philippines Football League.
Mendoza who was expected to be selected since reporting for the training camp in Manila, a day after Dooley’s new mandate, now joins fellow City Boys custodian Azri G. on the international front. Azri G. is currently with the Harimau Muda for the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan, having been with Brad Maloney’s side since just before they departed for the South East Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam in early May. This leaves the City Boys with only their third choice keeper,
This leaves the City Boys with only Azim Al Amin as an established goalkeeper in the first team practices, since training resumed last week following a short break after the 2-1 away victory over Sarawak United on May 17, 2022.
The Azkals will kick-off Group B’s proceedings on June 8, 2022 against Yemen, then play the host nation, Mongolia three days later, and wrap things up on June 14, 2022 against Palestine. All matches are held in Ulaanbaatar. In the third and final qualifying round, 24 teams are divided into six groups of four teams each, to play single round-robin matches in six centralised venues. The group winners and the best five runners-up across all groups qualify for the Asian Cup next yea, joining other 13 teams who gained their ticket to the finals during the second round.