De Jong quits Azkals ahead of Suzuki Cup
CITING “personal reasons,” midfielder Jason de Jong, one of the most improved players under national football team coach Thomas Dooley, yesterday announced his retirement from the Azkals.
The 24-year-old De Jong, the reigning Golden Ball winner in the United Football League, said he has already informed Dooley of his decision not to play for the national team’s next major tournament, the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The move comes as a shock as De Jong has been an integral part of the team being developed by Dooley. It also leaves a big hole in the Azkals midfield as they prepare for the Suzuki Cup.
“My heart is not in it anymore and I want to spend more time with my family,” said the Filipino-Dutch standout, who has played 49 times for the Azkals since 2008.
De Jong told the Inquirer that, unlike the “resignation” of Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara early this year, his move to quit the team wasn’t because of a falling out with Dooley.
“I thank boss Dan (Palami) and coach Dooley for the opportunity they gave me,” said De Jong. “It was certainly an honor playing for the national team.”
De Jong has been part of almost every PH side that achieved milestones the past four years. He played in the AFF Suzuki Cup side in 2010 and 2012 as well as the AFC Challenge Cup squad that reached the final against Palestine early this year.
Meanwhile, the Azkals will face Thailand on Nov. 10 as part of their buildup for the Suzuki Cup. The Azkals will no longer play Malaysia on Nov. 8 and instead will fly to Nakhon Ratchasima for the duel with the Thais, the losing finalists to Singapore in the 2012 Suzuki Cup.
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