Azkals Marañon could be joining the Azkals for thevSEA Games. PFL photo

Azkals eye Marañon, Hartmann for SEA Games

March 11, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 264 views

THE Philippines hopes to bolster its scoring options for the U23 squad to the Southeast Asian Games men’s football competitions in Vietnam in May.

Long-time Azkals team manager Dan Palami said they are eyeing for naturalized player Bienve Marañon and Mark Hartmann to fill in the striker position.

“There will be senior players,” said Palami.

Countries can field in two overaged players for the SEA Games U23 competition.

Having Marañon, who is now with Malaysia Super League club Johor Darul Ta’zim, and Hartmann, who is with reigning PFL champion United City FC, reinforce the SEA Games squad will definitely boost the Philippines’ scoring that was sorely lacking in previous editions.

“That’s we will focus on,” said Palami.

The Philippine U23 men’s team in the biennial meet will be feature an all-Filipino coaching staff, with Norman Fegidero, who provided one of the country’s greatest football moments by scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 upset of Malaysia in 1991, as part of the program.

Palami said that the U23 Azkals will look to qualify to the semifinals in the SEA Games for the first time since the age limit of under-23 was introduced in 2001.

The Philippines will have its training camp in Singapore and will play Malaysia as part of the FAS Tri-Nations Series 2022 slated later this month in Singapore.

The Malaysians will take on the Azkals on March 23.

The Philippines has also appointed coach Stewart Hall as technical director who will be looking to develop not just players but also coaches based here in the country.