When Patrick Reichelt steps on the field for the Philippine Azkals in their upcoming joint 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in China next month, he will do so after a grueling season with Suphanburi in Thailand.
Suphanburi had a torturous campaign in the 2020-2021 season of the Thai League 1. However, the end of the tournament yielded relief for Reichelt, who produced four goals and two assists in 27 games, and his teammates as they staved off relegation by placing 13th in the standings with 28 points.
For his contributions, the 32-year-old winger was granted an extension by the club.
“I’ll be staying in Suphanburi FC for at least another season.
“We’ve been told directly after the league finished that the club wants to keep working together. So in the end it was just the struggle of waiting until the paperwork was fixed. A few offers came in during that time in Thailand but eventually, I decided it’s best to contribute in Suphanburi,” said the 5-foot-11 player.
Aside from Reichelt, another Filipino player was renewed by the club’s higher-ups for his stellar performances. Former Global stopper Patrick Deyto is also staying for at least one more season after he was able to keep six clean sheets in 26 fixtures.
“Deyto will be staying with me together in Thailand.
“I’m really happy about that. He’s been through a crazy growth period over the past couple of years and it’s amazing to see what he has become as a goalkeeper,” divulged the former Ceres-Negros star.
The past season has brought numerous trials that Reichelt needed to overcome. He missed pre-season due to an injury that needed surgery. The lull in the tournament due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic then gave him a chance to recharge his batteries.
“After the break, I was able to establish myself as a regular. I’m happy I helped the team stay in the league. Mentally and physically it was a tough year fortunately with a happy ending,” he said.
“Obviously playing against relegation is tough and I can’t promise that next year will be different. Thailand is a super competitive league where literally anyone can beat anyone. So everything can happen. What I can say is that we will do the best we can to have a more comfortable situation in the league than last year.”
Dropping down the lower division would have been a great blow to Suphanburi. When the threat of demotion to the Thai League 2 loomed, Reichelt and his teammates dug deep to earn wins over Chiangrai United and fellow strugglers Sukhothai.
“Last year, we had lots of periods where fans weren’t allowed. So to have them at the end of the league was a huge boost. As we had the last two games at home, the fans helped us a lot and I believe they were a big part of the reason we were able to survive,” explained the Fil-German.
Reichelt is currently in Doha, Qatar, as part of coach Scott Cooper’s pool for the Philippines’ upcoming matches against Guam, Maldives, and China.
It has already been a long year for the Berlin-born player and it is about to get longer although he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Now I’m just happy to be here with the national team. After such a long time it’s really good to see my fellow Filipinos. The Azkals have been a big part of my life for the past nine years. I will never give up fighting for my spot on the team. And I believe I have many years on a good level to be able to help them,” he said.
“The Azkals are family and I owe the national team a lot. They are the main reason I was able to shape my career the way it turned out. Now we focus on the upcoming three games in China and hopefully get good results. There is so much quality here in this camp and hopefully, we can succeed.”