AFTER accomplishing their mission for the club, Ceres-La Salle’s Azkals have shifted their focus on their duty for the country.
Ceres stars Patrick Reichelt, Juani Guirado, Manny Ott, and Jeffrey Christiaens missed the national team’s friendly against Nepal in Qatar last Saturday following club management’s decision not to release them.
Preparing for the United Football League’s Football Alliance League Cup knockout phase was the main reason, they stressed.
“It’s very big to play for the country, but there are times when you have to step back as a player and let people who know better decide,” Reichelt said. “No one among us wanted to miss the friendly. But it was a reasonable decision for our club. We had to stay here.”
“Every single player wants to play for the national team, but we need to respect the local teams and we are working hard to win something,” Guirado added. “And they (management) are spending a lot of time and money for us to win.”
They were rewarded with the FA League Cup title after beating Global FC, 2-1, in the finale on Thursday night.
With their club commitments done, the Azkals assured that their eyes are now on the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
“It’s a big tournament,” Guirado said of the Suzuki Cup, where the Filipinos hope to move up after two straight semifinal appearances. “I think we have a chance to win there, but we have to work hard and show what we can do on the pitch.”
“I think it’s always better to go there with a (UFL) championship on your back,” said Reichelt, who along with Guirado, Christiaens, Ott, and Paul Mulders are part of the Azkals’ 24-man lineup in their away friendly against Thailand on Sunday.
Proving their willingness, the Ceres stars linked up with national team and left for Thailand less than day after winning the title.