Stephan Schrock has always been a fighter for the Philippine Men’s National Football Team.
Whether he played as a midfielder, defender, or even a forward, Filipino football fans have always appreciated the Filipino-German player because of his work-rate, as well his creativity on the ball.
When the Azkals walked out of the tunnel and onto the pitch against South Korea to kickstart their 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, it seemed only natural that the 32-year-old led the team as captain – particularly with the likes of Phil Younghusband on the bench and Neil Etheridge out of the lineup.
It was an incredible moment for the midfielder. For roughly two years, Schrock wasn’t selected for national team duty because his relationship with former Azkals mentor Thomas Dooley broke down after the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup. Now he led the squad in their biggest game yet.
“For me, it’s an absolute crazy story. Four months ago or five months ago, under the old coach (Thomas Dooley), I wasn’t even selected to represent the country under the best twenty-three players. Stepping on the pitch today as first captain representing one-hundred, twenty million people is just amazing,” said Schrock, now 32 years of age.
“For the first time in a long time, I got goosebumps when I stepped on the pitch. And that’s always a good sign.”
With the armband on, the Ceres-Negros stalwart produced another one of his combative displays for the Philippines against South Korea. And while he and the rest of the Azkals lost, they impressed observers with how they held the South Koreans defensively and also frightened them in their own box.
“I think in an open play – of course we are the defending team and Korea had most of the possession – but in an open play we looked more dangerous. With (Javier) Patino, (Patrick) Reichelt, and Manny Ott on the run, we could have scored. And imagine the two chances we had, one of them we had to convert – and that would be the biggest upset in the last 100 years, I guess,” explained the former SpVgg Greuther Fürth player.
“It wasn’t meant to be yet so we’re looking forward to have the three points against China.”
Supporters and former teammates congratulated Schrock for his and the team’s fine start to the tournament. And the player was grateful for the fans who watched inside the venue, because their presence inspired the team to run the extra mile. But one message stood out.
“My mom texted me afterwards. She’s still not so football-educated as she should be. She said ‘You played well but next time, please avoid yellow cards’.
“That’s what her text is saying. I owe my mom everything. I’m very happy I can give her something back by representing the country. She’s very happy and that makes me happy,” shared the Filipino-German player.
With the game over, the Philippines’ first-ever Asian Cup skipper is shifting his focus to the team’s next two games in Group C, against China and Kyrgyzstan. If the Azkals hope to advance to the next round, they must get points in their next assignments.
“We don’t have to be afraid of no one. They’re all coming with two feet and two arms only, same as us. So, why should we be scared? We do this every week. We practice all our lives to be in this stage. Today we showed that we deserved to be here.”
Definitely, Schrock has come full circle.
Kai Sotto shows might as Gilas Youth escapes FEU in tune-up
Kiefer Ravena’s first practice will be with Gilas
Araneta, Ceballos scale Santiago mountain as Generika-Ayala stomps Foton
Yeng Guiao has little hope Jayson Castro will have change of heart
Ricci Rivero hurt as Gilas Men’s 3×3 fall to Thailand in Asia Cup opener
Alyssa Valdez hurts left ankle in season opener
Cherry Rondina-Bernadeth Pons fall to Japan to finish in 5th place
Thirdy Ravena to be hailed as Collegiate Basketball’s star of stars
Saldua’s putback, Robles’ swat pave way for Davao Occidental’s escape of Zamboanga
Collado, Gabo connive as Basilan Steel give Bicol rude MPBL welcome
Motolite picks up first win at skidding Bali Pure’s expense
PacificTown-Army ends first round at solo third, outlasts BanKo
- ADMU1 day ago
Blue Eagles score coup as Ramos brothers commit to Ateneo
- News4 days ago
Channon Thompson, surging Motolite dig deep, get back at PacificTown–Army
- News2 days ago
Kalei Mau on F2 Logistics debut: ‘I couldn’t have dreamt a more perfect match’
- News2 days ago
Debuting Kalei Mau, F2 Logistics slip past PLDT