Unable to see action in the Philippines for close to two years, Fil-German standout Stephan Schrock is relishing the experience of playing in front of his countrymen in the AFC Challenge Cup Group E Qualifiers starting Friday.
Though he has linked up with the Azkals in friendly matches abroad, Schrock has not played at Rizal Memorial Stadium since the 1-2 loss to Kuwait in the second round of World Cup qualifying in July 2011.
Schrock left a lasting impression in the match with a sublime 25-yard goal that gave the Azkals the lead at halftime.
“It’s always good to be back,” Schrock told the Inquirer after training Wednesday. “I’m always excited to come here to play for the Philippines and see the guys (teammates).”
Unlike in his previous trips to Manila, Schrock is enjoying a good run of form in the German Bundesliga as he has started the last four matches for his club, Hoffenheim, which is battling relegation.
One of the biggest matches of Schrock’s career came two weeks ago when he played against German giants Bayern Munich, where he faced off with French national team star Franck Ribery and Austrian sensation David Alaba who, like Schrock, has a Filipino mother.
“It’s a pleasure to play against Ribery,” said Schrock. “Me and Alaba exchanged jerseys after the game. To play against Munich is always a big deal for everybody.”
Schrock knows he has a huge task at hand here.
“We’ve got a big goal and I hope we can get through,” said Schrock. “I think everybody is in good shape.
“We have to go step by step, but the hardest match I think will be Turkmenistan.”