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Schrock looks to be active in helping groom young Azkals

For almost 12 years, Stephan Schrock has been a cornerstone of the Philippine Azkals. He has competed in two AFC Challenge Cup runs, two Suzuki/Mitsubishi Electric Cup conquests, one AFC Asian Cup, and multiple World Cup qualifiers.

Now, he has bid farewell to the national team after last night’s 2-1 defeat to Indonesia in front of 2,307 fans at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. And the four-time Philippines Football League champion was in a reflective mood about the past, present, and future.

Schrock – who produced six goals and 10 assists in the national team shirt – immediately paid homage to long-time Azkals team manager Dan Palami. Back when the Azkals emerged into the public consciousness, Palami was one of the most popular sports figures around.

These days, though, the Azkals are struggling to gain success in international tournaments. And the 52-year-old businessman’s popularity has plummeted so much that he has attracted so much criticism on social media.

Dan-Palami Schrock looks to be active in helping groom young Azkals Football News Philippine Azkals  - philippine sports news

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s been part of my journey. Special thanks to boss Dan Palami. I know we are quick to judge. Our fellow men are quick to judge but you don’t want to imagine football without him, where would it be regardless if it doesn’t look so well at the minute,” said Schrock.

“You would not understand where Philippine football would be without him. I think many, many, many people discredit him for recent events, recent results, will not understand the full picture, will not understand the sacrifices he is doing,” he continued.

“I’d like to point that out because he is someone who is taking all the blame, taking all the responsibilities if things are not going well but stepping back when things are going well. I’d like to thank him.”

In an ideal world, Schrock – just like all athletes – would have liked to end on a high note. However, some stars just are not meant to align. For the second straight AFF tournament, the Azkals have failed to reach the semifinal stage.

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This time around, preparations were just not ideal. New Azkals coach Josep Ferre only took charge a few weeks before the team’s first game. In fact, his appointment was announced on December 8, 2022, despite the team’s opening day assignment against Cambodia on December 20, 2022.

Definitely, the circumstances were not ideal and the results showed. The Azkals were only able to win one game in Group A – a 5-1 win over Brunei on home soil – and they suffered three losses.

This was the worst showing of the team since the 2016 edition, where it only got two points behind two draws and one loss. Despite the dismal results, Schrock has much respect for his comrades.

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“If you follow the league, if you follow club football closely, then you would know what kind of struggles the players went through. The smallest issue actually is to perform and come to the training. They have a lot to deal with,” said the 36-year-old midfielder. “I just have nothing but respect for everyone who showed up prepared, motivated, with passion, and committed. I told them that before the last game that I’m very, very proud. I’m very happy with the way they conducted (themselves).

“Obviously, football is a results game and a performance thing but you will not understand the troubles the players went through. All of the players. Eighty percent of them. We have to give credit to them.”

For Schrock, this latest campaign serves as part of growing pains for what he hopes would be long-term and consistent success for the Azkals. The past few international campaigns have not been kind to the Azkals and a revamp is needed to get things back on track.

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The likes of Sandro Reyes, Kenshiro Daniels, Julian Schwarzer, and Jens Rasmussen have emerged from this tournament and they can become stalwarts just like their predecessors down the line.

“We have a bright future with the young ones. (They are) very, very promising players. I wish them all the best. I hope I can help them in any (way). If ever someone has a question, I’ll reach out anytime and I’ll be there for them,” said the current Azkals Development Team star.

“It’s a very smart move from the federation and the management that we started a transition now. We did not see immediate results in this tournament but this is a long-term concept and it was necessary to do so. We will see results in the near future. Just be patient.”

While Schrock has called it a day in terms of wearing the Azkals shirt in international competitions, he still has plenty left in the tank in terms of helping Philippine football grow.

It is well-documented that he has started working on his coaching badges during these past few years while he has an active role in the current ADT setup. He is not closing his doors to any role within Philippine football but just like all things, he needs time to decide on whatever path to follow.

2022-PFL-Season-ADT-vs-UCFC-Schrock Schrock looks to be active in helping groom young Azkals Football News Philippine Azkals  - philippine sports news


“I’d love to stay involved. I know it’s difficult. I know it’s probably not the easiest job, coach (Ferre) can probably tell you more about that but I’d love to be involved. I’d love to help whenever there is a need. I’m making myself available,” said the former Greuther Fürth standout.

“Obviously, there have been talks already. There are things being set up that could be me getting in the way to stay in Philippine football, stay in national team football. Next week we will assess some more things and prepare for the future.”

Written By

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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