Gier urges Azkals: Give your all
Former national team skipper Rob Gier may be a few months removed from retirement, but he has kept close tabs with the Philippine Azkals with a few days to go before their biggest tournament of the year.
For Gier, no other tournament has given the Azkals so much pain and joy than the AFF Suzuki Cup which begins on Saturday at Philippine Sports Stadium.
Now 35 and coaching the Oxford University’s women’s team, Gier was a key figure in the Azkals’ 2010 side that made a historic semifinal appearance in the tournament.
But the former central defender was also reduced to tears as the Azkals suffered a semifinal exit at the hands of Singapore in 2012 and also got eliminated in the same stage two years ago in Bangkok.
“I miss representing the country, traveling with the team and training,” Gier told the Inquirer recently. But it came to a point where I felt I couldn’t be at my best anymore.”
Although the Azkals boast plenty of attacking talent, there’s been a dearth of personnel playing in Gier’s position at central defense following his retirement as well as that of Juani Guirado and Jerry Lucena.
But more than his play, Gier left a huge void being the Azkals’ acknowledged leader on the pitch and in the locker room in recent years.
“Just go out there and give it your all,” said Gier in his message to the team. “It’s an opportunity to make history again. It’s a privilege to represent the country at home in this tournament and I would give up a lot of things to have that chance.”
The Azkals battle Singapore in Group A opener on Saturday in Bocaue, Bulacan.
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