By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA – Stephan Schrock will be playing his final match in a Philippine Azkals kit when the national team takes on Indonesia in its last assignment in the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup on Monday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
In the first sports news for 2023 right on New Year’s Day, Schrock announced during the pregame press conference at the nearby Ninoy Aquino Stadium that he is calling it an international career after nearly 12 years starting in 2011.
“In football, nothing is for sure, but 99 percent this would be my last game for the national team,” Schrock said.
According to Schrock, he began pondering about retiring from international football when former Azkals coach Thomas Dooley left him out of the national team pool for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers last year.
“Given that I was not selected in the AFC qualifiers, I think it’s about time to step down and to enjoy the last 90 minutes of my Azkals career,” Schrock further said.
The 36-year-old midfielder will play his 55th match in the first team in the Azkals’ 8:30 p.m. showdown against Indonesia.
The Azkals are already out of contention in the playoff race, but they would want to give Schrock a fitting sendoff by denying Indonesia a shot at stealing the top seed in Group A from Thailand entering the semifinals.
“Obviously a sad moment for us that we’re eliminated already, but there’s always something to play for when you wear the national team jersey, and we wanna finish the tournament with a good performance and with a good result obviously,” Schrock further said. “We want to at least duplicate our performance of what we’ve shown against Brunei.”
It’s uncertain if his club career will follow suit, although he remains listed as the playing assistant coach of the Azkals Development Team in the PFL even as his post-playing job is now set by founding the Azkals Development Academy. (PNA)