PH Azkals’ Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders retire
JERRY Lucena and Paul Mulders—two key cogs of the national team in the past five years—have announced their retirement from international football.
The announcement came just a week before the Azkals embark on the toughest stretch of their Asian Cup and World Cup Qualifying campaign, facing top seed Uzbekistan in Tashkent and Group H leader North Korea at home.
Both Lucena and Mulders were called up by coach Thomas Dooley for the last two matches of the qualifying campaign.
But the 35-year-old Lucena announced on the website of his Danish club, Esbjerg, that he has informed the Philippine Football Federation of his decision to quit the national side. The Fil-Danish midfielder, who made his debut for the country against Myanmar in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in 2011, said he is still nursing a knee injury.
“It was like being part of a family, and my only regret was that I wasn’t able to do it sooner,” Lucena said of representing the country.
Lucena represented the country 38 times, scoring two goals, the most important of which was against the Maldives in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
“After my father’s death, playing for the country has meant something for me to stay connected to my second homeland,” said Lucena.
The 35-year-old Mulders, who plays club football for Ceres La Salle, also informed Azkals manager Dan Palami of his decision to quit the team after playing for the Azkals 38 times since 2011.