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Gier: Three points an absolute must

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Since being called up by the Philippines to play for the national men’s football team [Azkals] in 2009, Rob Gier has proved to be a rock at the heart of the defense. A knee injury that required surgery has set him back but he has displayed signs of recovery. “Yes, it’s going okay. Still feels not 100% yet but that’s gonna come. It’s taken a little bit longer than I’ve hoped to get back but when you get at my age these things take a little bit longer so it’s good to be out there with the guys in training,” Gier shared after the Azkals’ training session.

When Gier started to play for the Azkals, a win was deemed miraculous. Now, the Azkals have achieved two wins, a draw and a couple of losses in the 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign. Gier reminisced, “Yeah, I mean it just goes to show how far we have come and credit to everyone who have been involved in Philippine football for the past six or seven years now who’ve really helped developed the game. You know, you look around at the squad with the players and the staff we have now and they get a lot of credit but we can never forget the guys who have helped us along the way as well and credit to everyone who have sacrificed a lot for this team to get us where we are today. To be even considering mixing it in World Cup qualification shows how far we’ve come.”

The Azkals have endured mixed results in their last two outings. Two successive away games yielded a credible draw in North Korea and a painful defeat in Bahrain. The Azkals’ travel time to get to both countries approximated 30 hours in total. Gier noted that preparations hadn’t been ideal and that the effort of his teammates in Pyongyan shouldn’t be forgotten. “That was a tough game. Eight minutes stoppage time on a tough, tough pitch. It might have looked good on television but that was an energy-sapping artificial turf as well. And after that the guys took on that 30 hour journey, it wasn’t ideal and unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted but you know we can’t make excuses. It’s just one of those things. That’s just the luck of the draw that we haven’t had two home games in a row in this qualifying period either which some of the teams have had. But you know, that’s just as I say you can’t make those excuses.”

The 0-2 loss at Bahrain had been next for the Azkals. Gier admitted that the Azkals were second best in that game but still felt positive because there are still games to play. “We hold our hands up in Bahrain. They were the better team on the day. They came away with the win but you know there’s still a possibility that we can get something out of this then we’ll be fighting as we always do to try and get the result.”

The Azkals defeated Yemen away 2-0 last time out, but Gier wasn’t one to be overconfident and pointed out that stronger teams on paper had a hard time against them. He added, “In my point of view, the thing we have to concentrate first and foremost is to win and get the three points. Make sure we’re professional. Make sure we do the right things at the right time. We do those things and if we come out to play like we can do, I’m sure we can get the win.”

After the Yemen game, the Azkals are set to face Uzbekistan away and North Korea at home. Gier said that three points are an absolute must later tonight. Once those three points are secured, they can turn their thoughts to the next two games. Gier concluded, “I think we go to Uzbekistan first and then we fly back to Manila. So you know anything can happen in football. You never know. I think it’s gonna take three wins out of three to take us anywhere close. That’s gonna take monumental effort away in Uzbekistan and then hopefully we can pack up Rizal, get the crowd behind us and go for it against North Korea. But first things first we must get three points on Thursday and hopefully many people will come out and support us.”

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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