Paolo Pascual is a product of Springdale Football Club under coach Mario Ceniza. He was the varsity goalkeeper of the University of San Carlos before he joined the Azkals early last year.
Azkals’ key defender Ray Anthony Jonsson was born in Liloan town and grew up there till age 8 when he left for Iceland but still speaks fluent Bisaya.
Jonsson has been a key defender of the Azkals’ cause in several international tournaments.
He’s also played for Iceland in the European Union Football Association.
Wingman Patrick Reichelt was born in Berlin, Germany but relocated to the Philippines last year. His mother hails from Argao, south Cebu.
Reichelt was the hero in the Azkal’s 1-0 win against Guam in the Philippine Football Peace Cup last September.
Fans will be watching out as well for brothers Phil and James Younghusband, the team’s most high-profile players, who will be likely fielded midway in the match.
The game will be played on a newly levelled football field in the city-run sports center.
The rocky, dirt surface was refurbished with joint efforts of the Cebu Football Association, Atla Vista Golf and Country Club and the Cebu Country Club.
It will be Cebu’s first international football match, a much-awaited event for a sport that has quickly grown in popularity because of the Azkals.
In yesterday’s final press conference at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel, the three Cebu-blooded athletes said tonight’s match in Cebu was a dream come true.
Jonsson, said tonight’s match is important as the team’s last tune-up before heading to the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup 2012, which will kick off on Nov. 24 in Malaysia.
Reichelt said he was proud to be playing before a home crowd, which includes relatives who are coming from Argao to watch the game.
He said it would be great if he could score, knowing his family was watching from the grandstand.
The German-born athlete is a right winger but is being trained to play versatile roles on on the field.
Goalkeeper Pascual said he may not be fielded tonight in the match but was happy to see it happening in Cebu.
“Lahi na kaayo. There is really a big difference in the field and there are many kids now interested in the sport,” Pascual said.
In the last friendly match against Singapore, only Reichelt and Jonsson were able to play.
Philippine Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss is expected to start Eduardo Sacapano in the absence of star goalkeeper Neil Etherige who is now playing for Bristol in the English League.
It’s up to the coach who to send in the field as a matter of strategy. He said “anything can happen in football”. /Marsante Alison, Correspondent