Oliver Bias is one of the youngest ever players — at least in recent memory — to have suited up for the Philippine Azkals. And in the last three joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup fixtures, the 20-year-old standout’s performances proved that he belongs at the senior level of international football.
“Of course, it’s a great honor to play for the Azkals and I’m very happy to be here and for me. It’s a very great experience to play with guys like Schrocky [Stefan Schrock], who also played in the Bundesliga and stuff like this,” said the 5-foot-5 winger.
“Of course, I can learn a lot of things from them when they tell me to do this or that in the game. Of course, I can learn it and put it into my game for the future.”
Bias came into the Doha, Qatar, training camp as a 19-year-old. He celebrated his 20th birthday on June 15. That was also when the Philippines played against the Maldives in Sharjah.
His peers Jarvey Gayoso and Mark Winhoffer competed with various junior Philippine squads before they got their call-ups at the senior level.
Even the legendary Phil Younghusband competed in the 2005 SEA Games as an under-23 athlete.
“Well, I think in men’s football, age does not matter very much anymore. That’s why I need to prove that it was the right decision of the coach to call me to the national team. That’s why I’m always wanting and willing to give my best on the pitch,” said the former Erzgebirge Aue youth player.
“I think I was welcomed very well by all of the players. On the first day, they already came to my room, said hello and stuff like that, so it was very easy for me to get in touch with all of the players. And I think this also helped me to give my best on the pitch.”
Bias is still at the stage of his career where he is looking for a big break and a city to settle in.
The former Germany youth international has a lot of time, though. And he feels determined to take everything he can in the early part of his journey.
“Of course, the time in RB Leipzig helped me very much because I spent five years of my youth there.
“I developed very good. The time also in Nitra brings me one step forward because the playing style in Slovakia is very different from Germany. They play much more physically; you need to run more and go into duels and stuff like this. And I think this helped me get to the point,” he explained.
The performances of Bias in the Sharjah bubble have provoked praise from Azkals coach Scott Cooper — particularly after the match against Guam. There, he provided an assist for veteran striker Angel Guirado.
While receiving kind words means a lot, the Johanngeorgenstadt native understands that he should not rest on his laurels.
“I’m very proud he can say stuff like this to me ,because it shows me I am doing most of the things I do right. But that’s not a sign for me to take it slow. It’s just a sign of motivation for me to just try to go forward and forward, and still give more than 100 percent on the pitch,” he said.
As things stand, the Azkals will compete in the AFF Suzuki Cup later this December; and the final qualifying round for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup next February.
One tournament that Bias looks forward to — if it pushes through — is the 2021 SEA Games, which will take place in Vietnam.
“It doesn’t matter for me if it’s a lower age group because all of the guys that already played in the SEA Games said to me it’s a very great experience. It’s very good to play there. It will be very much fun and stuff like this. That’s why I’m looking forward to go there and play there as well.”