Phil Younghusband embraces role as Azkals leader | Inquirer Sports
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Phil Younghusband embraces role as Azkals leader

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 03:22 PM September 03, 2015
PHIL Younghusband scores off Papua New Guinea goalkeeper Albert Mesulam. It was his 38th goal in 63 games for the Azkals. ARNOLD ALMACEN

PHIL Younghusband. ARNOLD ALMACEN

With defender Rob Gier recuperating from a knee injury, the Philippine Azkals will turn to Phil Younghusband for leadership in their next two matches, including the crucial World Cup Qualifying clash with Uzbekistan on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Younghusband who was appointed captain last year when Gier was relegated to a substitute’s role said he’s gotten comfortable with his role for an Azkals side that has undergone lineup changes the past five years.

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The team has changed so much that only Younghusband, Gier and Neil Etheridge are the ones who remain from the squad that stunned Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup which turned out to be the win that put attention back to the sport.

Since Chieffy Caligdong’s retirement last year, Gier has taken over the leadership mantle in the team, organizing the defense while providing encouragement for a team known for its resilience and never-say-die spirit.

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But as Gier recovers from the injury he suffered in the duel with Bahrain, Younghusband’s job now goes beyond scoring goals and providing the attacking threat at midfield.

It’s a role which he said should come naturally for him being the most capped player in the team with 72 appearances for the national team.
The Loyola Meralco Sparks star is also the national side’s leading scorer with 42 goals.

“I try to lead by example,” said Younghusband, who made his first senior appearance way back in 2006 against Laos in the AFF Championships at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

“I’m fortunate to have teammates who always know the importance of their roles and what needs to be done for the team to be successful.”
Younghusband admitted Gier’s presence remains important with the team, although the defender is still not fit to suit up for the side.

“He’s still there as a voice and as a personality within the team even though he won’t be available to play,” said Younghusband of Gier.

Younghusband has the full backing of Azkals coach Thomas Dooley who described the attacking midfielder as an “outstanding player.”

“He has the qualities of a good leader and I think he is the right man to be the captain,” Dooley said.

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TAGS: azkals world cup, fifa world cup qualifiers, Phil Younghusband, Rob Gier, Sports
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