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Cooper wants mix of youth and experience

Manila: Philippines head coach Scott Cooper will place his trust in a mix of youth and experience for the Asian Qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Cooper has been with Azkals since last year, overseeing training with Sven Goran Eriksson, who had a brief stint with the squad during the 2018 AFF Championship and 2019 AFC Asian Cup UAE in January.

The Philippines made their historic debut in UAE but ended their campaign in the group stage of the Continental competition after finishing behind Kyrgyz Republic, China PR and Korea Republic.

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Carrying the flag for the Philippines in UAE were the likes of Stephan Schröck, Alvaro Silva and the Younghusband brothers and Cooper wants to rebuild his ageing squad with the injection of fresh players.

The Englishman has identified new faces to the fold, including Michael Kempter, Elias Mordal and Jesse Curran Raphael Obermair, who is looking to secure his Filipino passport, is also being considered.

“We’re looking to bring in younger players, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed on anybody,” Cooper said to local media.

“We’re just trying to keep our options wide open before we can decide what is going to be the best balance for the squad,” he went on. “We want some experience and youth and play some attractive football.”

The Azkals will face familiar opponents in Group A of the Asian Qualifiers with China PR, Guam, Maldives and Syria for company.

The Philippines lost 2-0 to Marcelo Lippi’s China PR in an international friendly on June 7 with Wu Xi and Zhang Xizhe finding the net for Team Dragon.

Cooper's charges play Syria in their opening match of the Asian Qualifiers on September 5 at Panaad Stadium before taking on China PR on October 15.

“We can be confident and optimistic but also be realistic. We know we have to work hard,” added Cooper.

Photos: Philippines Football Federation

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