DESPITE the sidelining of Simone Rota and Patrick Reichelt due to injuries, football chief Mariano Araneta Jr. and national team manager Dan Palami are confident the Philippine Azkals will still be competitive in the Asean Football Federation Cup in November.
In a span of a week, defender Rota and winger Reichelt, playing for Global and Ceres FC, respectively, in the United Football League, went down with anterior cruciate ligament injuries, virtually keeping them out of the Suzuki Cup.
The two remained at home when the Azkals Manila last Saturday to play Kyrgyzstan in a friendly match tomorrow, Tuesday, in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.
Dr. Randy Molo, the national team’s orthopedic surgeon, remained hopeful about Rota’s status after initial findings showed that his ACL was not as bad as initially feared.
“We will still have an MRI of the injury to gauge its extent,” he said.
“We have more depth now in our national pool. We have quality players who can step up and replace Simone and Patrick,” Araneta said. “Our team won’t be a pushover without them.”
Araneta pointed out the presence of Martin Steuble who can fill in the shoes of the Filipino-Italian defensive specialist.
“Of course, Simone and Patrick are quality players. However, it isn’t cause for panic like in the past when their absence would be critical,” said Palami, “We have enough replacements in our present pool to fill their absence.”