The country's most popular attacker and his brother will not participate in the four-nation tournament, which kicks off at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on September 25Philippines have announced their 20-player roster for this week's Philippine Peace Cup, declining to include striker Philip Younghusband or his brother James.
The hosts will have to make do without the Loyola Meralco Sparks attacker when they face Guam, Macau, and Chinese Taipei in the round-robin competition.
"While we feel excited and optimistic about [the AFF Suzuki Cup], we must also manage our expectations," Azkals management wrote in a press release published to the team's official website. "Despite the renewed work on our grassroots training program, the Philippines is still a greenhorn compared to our ASEAN neighbors.
"As we enter a more rigorous phase of preparations for the tournament, the PFF has lined up a series of games and training camps that will culminate in a friendly versus Singapore in November."
The Azkals are grouped with Thailand and Vietnam in the tournament, which also features regional powerhouses Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
"Given this grueling schedule and the demands it will entail from the team, we have asked the players to give their unequivocal commitment to participate fully in the preparations," the statement continued. "Unfortunately, not everyone in the team could assure us of this; a few have already signified their unavailability for some crucial activities leading up to the tournament.
"While this is admittedly a setback in our plans, we understand that family obligations and club/work commitments sometimes take precedence. The coaching staff will instead make adjustments in the game plan and in the roster of players, starting from the Peace Cup."
The statement did not mention the Younghusbands by name or elaborate on why they were not selected. The Azkals will begin their Peace Cup campaign tomorrow against Guam at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.