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Stephan Schrock leads new-look Azkals squad in World Cup qualifiers

The new-look Philippine Azkals are set to tackle the challenge of overturning regional powerhouse China when they continue their campaign in the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Azkals stand at third in Group A and are hoping to climb the ladder, with the first step being a faceoff with China on Tuesday.

Among the new faces who could make their senior debuts are defender Mar Diano and shot-stopper Quincy Kammeraad, both of whom plied their trade with the Azkals Development Team (ADT) before being called up.

Even though Germany-based Gerrit Holtmann and Raphael Obermair could not join the national team for the qualifiers, there remains a healthy crop of reinforcements from foreign shores.

Fortifying the defense are Jefferson Tabinas, currently suiting up for Mito HollyHock in Japan's second division; Michael Kempter, at present seeing action for Neuch√Ętel Xamax in the Swiss Challenge League; and Mark Winhoffer, who joined the ADT after his stint for the Yale Bulldogs.

The midfield, meanwhile, will be manned by Oliver Bias and Matthew Baldisimo, based in Slovakia and Canada, respectively,

Like team captain Stephan Schrock, Bias represented Germany at the youth level before deciding to represent the Philippines at the senior level. The 19-year-old winger had spells with German clubs RB Leipzig and Optik Rathenow before moving to FC Nitra in the Slovakian top-flight.

On the other hand, Baldisimo was born to Filipino immigrants and served as captain of Canada's Under-17 team that competed in the 2015 CONCACAF Championship. The now-23-year-old started his career with MLS club Vancouver Whitecaps' youth and reserves before eventually finding his way to Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League.

Without regulars Neil Etheridge, Michael Falkesgaard, and Patrick Deyto, the Azkals will certainly see a debutant between the sticks, with the coaches choosing among German-based Bernd Schipmann, Kuala Lumpur City FC's Kevin Ray Mendoza, and ADT prospect Kammeraad.

Schipmann is currently signed with Rot Weiss Ahlen in the fourth level of the German football league system, while Mendoza moved to Malaysia after a stint in the Danish first division.

Azkals veterans Schrock and Patrick Reichelt will also see familiar faces with Manny Ott and Carlie de Murga coming in as late call ups to the squad.

Among the other longtime national team players are Angel Guirado, Martin Steubenville, Mark Hartmann, and Luke Woodland.

Azkals matches will be aired on One Sports and One Sports+ on Tuesday, 1:00 a.m., vs. China; Friday, 10:00 p.m., vs. Guam; and June 15, 10:00 p.m., vs. Maldives.