OVERSEAS-based Philippine men’s football team mainstays Dennis Cagara and Jerry Lucena are not closing their doors on the possibility of plying their trade full-time in the country, although they admit it may not happen in the near future.
The Filipino-Danish standouts, stalwarts of the Azkals’ formidable defense during their recent Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup campaign, are still tied down to contracts with their professional clubs that run through 2014. Cagara is signed with German side Karlsruher, while Lucena is with Danish squad Esbjerg.
“To be honest, right now, no, but you never know,” the 27-year-old Cagara told Spin.ph about the possibility of playing professional football in the Philippines, before they left for Denmark on Sunday for a Christmas vacation.
“It’s also difficult when you have your family, kids there. But I wouldn’t close the opportunity,” added Cagara, who is married with one child. “But if you ask me now, I would say no.”
“It also depends how the UFL grows,” the 32-year-old Lucena added, referring to the United Football League, the country’s fledgling pro league that was established only in 2009.
Convincing foreign-based booters to play professionally in the country can be integral to the progress of the national team as it strengthens the chemistry among the players.
The UFL has over the past year lured some overseas-based Azkals. Carli de Murga, Juani Guirado, Patrick Reichelt, Demit Omphroy, Jeff Christiaens, Marwin Angeles, and Denis Wolf are now playing for Global, while Jason de Jong plays for Stallion. Filipino-British Chris Greatwich has recently signed with League runner-up Kaya.
While they are unsure of the prospects of playing professionally in the Philippines, Lucena and Cagara are both committed to the national team.
“That’s the most important thing: to help the growth of football here. And we’ll have something to tell our grandkids,” Lucena said.
“We still have Filipino blood and people don’t have to forget that. We’re really happy we’re here,” added Cagara, who was born to a Filipino father and Danish mother.
Both defenders love everything about the country except for one thing.
“We love to be here. We love the atmosphere, the people, everything about it,” Lucena said.
“Except the traffic,” Cagara added with a laugh. “Of course there’s traffic in Denmark but it’s unbelievable here. That’s the only minus I can find here.”