Posted at 08/30/2015 12:37 AM
The Filipino-foreign players of the Philippine Azkals are just happy to represent the Philippines in the international stage even as they attempt to help the country gain a qualification in the 2018 World Cup.
Some of the players who guested at DZMM's ''Fastbreak'' explained how they found their way to the Philippines shores despite being born abroad.
''I went to Davao two years ago, my cousin told me about the Azkals and I was thinking about it. I told my dad and mom, I want to play... I want to go to the Philippines, they said if you want to play you can go,” said Japanese-Filipino midfielder Daisuke Sato.
Kenshiro Daniels, an English-Filipino, said he knows that suiting up for the national team would make his mother proud.
Daniels said he was among those who tried out for the team when Azkals manager Dan Palami and former team captain Aly Borromeo held trial in the US.
''My cousin and tita told me about the Azkals. I went into the trials in San Francisco then played in the UFL. Then the next thing you know, I got a call up,'' he said. ''I'm really happy that I've been able to represent the Philippines. I know that my mom would be proud.''
Australian-Filipino Iain Ramsay, for his part, he actually started out as a rugby player since it was popular in his hometown of Australia.
Later on, he made a transition to football, a sport he loved immensely. ''I decided to play for the Azkals just recently. I'm very blessed and fortunate to do what I love to do,'' he said.
''Obviously, my mother being Filipino and I have a lot of Filipino family back in Sydney… I know it means a lot to them.''
Italian-Filipino Dennis Villanueva said football is a big thing back in Italy. He started playing the sport at a young age by joining a football school at the age of 7, then progressing to the youth team and joining a semi-pro squad.
Since he has Filipino lineage, he decided to play for his father's home country. ''May dugo akong Filipino so why not try football here in the Philippines?'' he said.
For Spanish-Filipino Juani Guirado, playing for the Philippines is a life-changing decision.
The elder brother of Angel Guirado said he has decided to make the Philippines his home so he could play professionally and at the same time stay closer to the national team.
''Life is more fun in the Philippines. I come here to work for my family, for Philippines for being more close to national team and my career, here,'' he said.
The Philippine Azkals will be trying to make it through the third round of the World Cup qualifiers by taking on Uzbekistan after two straight victories in the preliminaries.
The game will take place at the Philippine Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan on September 8.
The top team in their group will advance to the next round while the four best second-placed teams from among the eight groups in qualifying will also move on, while claiming a spot in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.
But before facing the Uzbeks, the Azkals will sharpen their spurs by tackling Maldives in a friendly game on September 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.