Amidst difficulties in preparing and completing the 25-man national team pool due to various restrictions for the upcoming 2023 AFC Asian Cup/2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Suzhou, China, one of the country’s top young players has been called upon to beef up the country’s current lineup.
United City young gun Justin Baas was announced as the latest addition to the Philippine Azkals pool, Monday afternoon.
“Justin Baas of United City Football Club has also been called up to the team currently in Doha, Qatar preparing for the joint qualifying tournament for the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup,” led the team’s statement.
The development makes Baas the 26th player to be called up for the June matches against the national teams of Guam, China, and the Maldives.
The 6-foot-1 centre-back is expected to strengthen the Azkals’ backline and compete against the likes of Alvaro Silva and Carli de Murga for a place in the starting 11.
The 21-year-old, who joins Mark Hartmann and Stephan Schrock in the list of United City players in the training camp, now gets another chance to suit up for the Azkals at the senior level for the first time in roughly two years.
The last time he played for the country was in the 4-1 away win over Guam in a qualifier back in 2019. He is remembered fondly by local football fans for scoring a fine goal against Myanmar at the historic Rizal Memorial during the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
As things stand, the Philippines remain at third place of Group A with 7 points level with China but beneath them due to an inferior goal difference.
A top two finish will guarantee the Azkals qualification to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and the next 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying round but securing third place gives them the consolation of moving into the next phase of qualifiers for the continental competition.