New national team talents excite PH skipper Schrock
Philippines captain Stephan Schrock sees plenty of promise from the Azkals’ latest recruits, whom he said look “hungry, fresh and excited” to help the country in the next cycle of the World Cup qualifiers starting September.
Speaking to the Inquirer before the Azkals left for Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday night, the country’s only Asian Cup goal scorer believes the likes of newcomers Michael Kempter, Diego Bardanca and Pancho Fernandez can bring “positive vibes and energy” in their upcoming training camp and in future tournaments.
In fact, the new talents have made Schrock put his international retirement plans on hold.
“There are so many reasons to quit and really just a few to stay and continue,” said the 33-year-old Schrock. “This is for the country. I feel like I can still help on the pitch than somewhere else. If they find players much better than me, then I’ll be happy to step away.”
Azkals coach Scott Cooper has brought 24 players for the China camp, but only 17 will be eligible for the match against the Chinese national team on Friday.
Midfielder Christian Rontini of Italian side Sangiovannesse and goalkeeper Bernd Schipmann of German club Rot Weiss Ahlen are eligible to play against China. Kempter, Bardanca, Fernandez, Kainoa Bailey, Enrique Bernal, Kevin Guerra and Kristoffer Strickler are only invitees to the camp as they are still trying to secure the necessary requirements to play for the country.
Kempter, a defender, needs to secure a change in sporting nationality from the Fifa Player Status committee since he played for Switzerland at the youth level, while the Poland-based Bardanca, who has Filipino lineage through one of his grandparents, is still in the process of securing his passport.
Fernandez grew up in Toronto, Canada, but plays in the second division in Chile. Both of his parents are Filipino as he traces his roots in Bacolod City and Manila.
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