The recent run in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup may lead to a changing of the guard for the Philippine Azkals.
As some veterans hinted at the possibility of playing their final Suzuki Cup, there were those who emerged from the shadows of their popular teammates to bring a lot of promise heading into future tournaments.
“Hopefully these experiences will be a good one for the youngsters,” Rob Gier said. “They could potentially have five more Suzuki Cups to learn and try to get that elusive victory.”
Among the young players who performed well in the Suzuki Cup were midfielder Manny Ott and defender Amani Aguinaldo.
Ott, 22, was a vital figure in the Azkals’ attack and left a lasting memory in the Suzuki Cup when he fired a 20-yard strike in the team’s 4-0 victory over Indonesia in the group stage held in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The 19-year-old Aguinaldo, who hails from Davao and is undergoing residency at the University of the Philippines, brought toughness on the Azkals backline by preventing left wingers from threatening.
As for Gier, retirement seems to be on the horizon, although he remains a key figure in the Azkals’ back four with his tidy defending.
“I’m nearly 34. Some say that never say never but I think it’s time for the younger legs to have a chance to take over. I’m not announcing anything yet but it’s highly likely that I won’t be able to play in the next Suzuki Cup,” he said.