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In-form Mark Hartmann relishes new challenge in World Cup Qualifiers

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2015 has been a great year so far for Mark Hartmann. The Global FC midfielder/forward is among the important players in the reigning United Football League (UFL) champions’ inaugural Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup and is also the highest scoring local player in the group stage of the UFL Cup. In full throttle, Hartmann has another stage set for him to prove his worth—the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Unsurprisingly, Hartmann made it to Thomas Dooley’s 23-man roster for the games against Bahrain and Yemen. The 23-year-old played as a winger in the last time he played for the country at the 2014 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup while he was mainly used as a central attacking midfielder with Global. Hartmann is facing tough competition in those spots with the likes of Stephan Schroeck, Iain Ramsay, and Manny Ott also among the favorites to land starting roles. Nonetheless, Hartmann is hopeful that his wonderful showing this year will merit him playing time. “Form is very important and hopefully it carries over into this. If I get a chance to play, hopefully I’ll stick a few goals in,” he assessed.

There is no guarantee to which set of players Dooley will pick to start for the Azkals come June 11 and Hartmann thinks that is a good sign for it shows how deep the talent pool has become. Identifying the current roster as one of the most talented he has ever played with; Hartmann stressed the importance of team chemistry. “We need to play as a team, train together, get used to each other, and perform on the pitch,” the English-born Filipino uttered suggestively. Unlike four years ago, there is more balance between local-based players and foreign-based players, something Hartmann sees as a good thing for Filipino football.

Personally, the young Global FC talisman feels immensely excited for the opportunity to help propel football in the Philippines to greater heights.“[It’s a] Massive game. For me it’s my first ever World Cup Qualifying campaign so I’m looking forward to it. If we get through this, it will be great for the country,” he stated. Whether he sees action in the opening came at home versus Bahrain next Thursday or not is a decision not for Hartmann to make but he believes that there should only be one result at the end of the 90 regardless of his involvement. “Our first game is so crucial. We have to win it,” he optimistically said.

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