Schrock: PH Azkals rookies key bid for AFC Cup glory
ADDU CITY, Maldives—If the Philippine Azkals are to go far in the AFC Challenge Cup here, they would need a hardy bunch of newcomers to perform on the big stage.
Daisuke Sato, Simone Rota and Ruben “Balot” Doctora are playing their first major tournament along with Fil-Swiss midfield general Martin Steuble for the Azkals and star midfielder Stephan Schrock believes their performances will be key in their bid for glory.
Tracing his roots in Davao, Sato is a 19-year-old leftback who played for the youth team of Japanese club Urawa Reds before moving to Global early this year. Rota has had stints in the lower leagues in Italy before transferring to Stallion.
Doctora has been in and out of the national side since 2008, but it wasn’t until this year when coach Thomas Dooley handed him his first cap for the Azkals. He scored in the 3-0 win over Nepal last month.
“To be honest I was very surprised when I came in and saw the rookies,” Schrock said. “The team is in good shape even without the players from overseas.”
Young guns OJ Porteria, Amani Aguinaldo and Kenshiro Daniels were also selected and although they may not be expected to figure prominently here, they provide the Azkals foundation for future teams.
Schrock who spent last season playing for Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Bundesliga, is raring to go after missing a couple of major tournaments for the Azkals the past two years.
“I’m burning already,” said Schrock. “I was waiting for this for so long. Everybody has been working for this.”
But being the standout that he is, Schrock said success will boil down to team play.
“Special players can do well one or two situations in the game, but a good team wins a tournament and we hope that everybody is on the same level now,” said Schrock.