THE Philippine Under-22 football team could get a huge boost in terms of quality, leadership, and experience for its upcoming campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country is hosting next month.
Stephan Schrock has informed his interest to be part of the U-22 team that’s gunning for a breakthrough semifinal spot in the football tournament kicking off on November 26 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Azkals star midfielder is already 33, but is eligible to join the SEA Games team as one of two overage players who are allowed to play for each squad.
“Schrocky has expressed his intention,” Azkals manager Dan Palami said in Bacolod on Tuesday night after the national team’s impressive performance in a scoreless draw against China in their Fifa World Cup qualifying match.
Schrock, though, still has to get permission from mother club Ceres-Negros FC, which recently completed a title defense of the Philippines Football League.
Palami said the U-22 team has been preparing since July, gathering 50 local-based players to form a training pool that has been cut to 30 ahead of the announcement of the 20-man final squad.
Azkals players in Fil-Dutch center-back Justin Baas, Fil-Scottish winger Yrik Galantes, and Fil-Norwegian right-back Elias Suerti are part of the U-22 pool and are poised to make the final lineup.
Palami is still deciding who else aside from Schrock to tap as an overage player for the SEA Games that has veteran Serbian mentor Goran Milojevic as the assigned head coach and Azkals coach Scott Cooper his top deputy.
“We’ll check who would complement the players who are there, the younger players,” Palami said as his team is preparing to face the PFL teams in the Copa Paulino Alcantara as part of the SEA Games buildup.
“We’ll be preparing as hard as well as we’re preparing with the seniors team,” Palami said. “We hope that the impact that they will make will even be greater than we have made against China.”