By Bong Pedralvez
BRIMMING with self-confidence, veteran Filipino-German midfielder Stephan Schrock “guaranteed” the Philippine Azkals would win against Indonesia in a make-or-break AFF Suzuki Cup Group A match between the two squads today.
“We should win, that is the bottom line for us. We need to win the three points (for a victory) and we will get those three points,” Schrock vowed yesterday on the eve of their pivotal game at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“How we gonna do it is up to the coaching staff. But the whole team and everybody working with us know that we need the three points.”
When pressed if the Azkals are optimistic, Schrock replied: “Of course (we are confident) in getting the three points. Otherwise I would not show up tomorrow if I am not comfortable of having a good game.”
The Filipino booters found themselves scrambling to remain in contention in the four-team tournament after playing to a scoreless standoff with Singapore in their first game last Saturday.
A victory today would regain their footing in their bid to reach the semifinals of the region’s soccer showcase for the fourth consecutive time.
Schrock, however, was not taking the Merah Putih (Red and White) lightly despite the Azkals’ 4-0 rout of their foes the last time they met in the group stage of the event in Hanoi, Vietnam two years ago.
“Indonesia is a good team of quality and speed in the final (attacking) third of the pitch,” noted the 30-year-old Ceres mainstay, who made his Azkals debut in the World Cup qualifiers in 2014. “But we have good (defensive) guys who can manage them and we look forward to the game tomorrow.”
Asked about the role he would play in the crucial game, Schrock said “it would depends on what position. If I am given a free role then I will be more involved in attacking than I was in the last game. If play on the wing then our strikers will get good balls from me, and hopefully score one of them.”
Schrock bared he was not worried about siblings and Fil-German teammates Manny and Mike Ott, who were both slapped yellow cards in the game against Singapore. Another yellow or red card will force either or both to sit out the match against Thailand.
“I know they (the Ott brothers) will work hard against Indonesia. And whether they get suspended or not is not the issue. We need to win this game,” said Schrock. “Should they get suspended, we still have a lot of (talented) players who can replace them.”
For sure, the versatile midfield maestro said he would be giving his 100 percent against Indonesia.
“Absolutely, everybody can count on me in whatever role,” Schrock said. “I don’t have to score five goals or I don’t have to give assists to everyone. But I will fight and put everything I have.”
The clash with Indonesia would be another big challenge and test of character of the Azkals, said the player, who typifies the team’s never-say-die spirit.
“We change some guys and some new guys came in, but the Azkals spirit has always been the same,” he said. “When we have our backs to the wall that’s when we do our best and that’s what we (will) do tomorrow.”