Stephan Schrock, Amani Aguinaldo proving vital for U-22 Azkals' SEA Games medal aspirations
Santino Honasan on Nov 26, 2019 05:45 PM
"To be honest, this is the first strong match after the period that we started working with them in the end of August. It's a great, great improvement, and Schrock and Aguinaldo allowed that to be successful." - U-22 Azkals head coach Goran Milojevic (Photos: Arvin Lim)
As expected, senior Azkals regulars Stephan Schrock and Amani Aguinaldo are providing the Under-22 Men's Football National Team a massive boost as they target a podium finish in the on-going 2019 Southeast Asian Games tournament.
The two senior squad vets were highly instrumental in the Azkals' tournament-opening 1-1 draw against Cambodia, Monday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, and U-22 Azkals head coach Goran Milojevic could not stress enough the value and the importance of having two of the Nation's top players helping bolster the Philippines' bid for SEA Games football success.
More than just the talent that they bring, Milojevic touched on the leadership and the experience that someone like Schrock brings to a young and promising group of Pinoy footballers.
"We saw, all of us saw that they are so important to us, both of them, especially Schrock," the Serbian mentor said during the post-match press conference, Monday. "It is so important for these younger guys, he is like an older brother, he leads them...his quality, it's very great, and that's certainly expected of him because he's one of the best in Asia."
While Monday's match against Cambodia wasn't an easy one, Milojevic states that it was definitely a better showing than when training camp began roughly a month ago. The U-22 Azkals manager credits that improvement to the addition of Schrock and Aguinaldo to the fold.
"To be honest, this is the first strong match after the period that we started working with them in the end of August. It's a great, great improvement, and Schrock and Aguinaldo allowed that to be successful."
Schrock himself had nothing but praise for his younger teammates. The talented playmaker and senior team skipper was integral in the Azkals offensive attack, which ultimately led to a last-minute equalizer from Dennis Chung.
"Once they got loose, once they got smooth, in the second half, you can see that there's a lot of potential there," Shrock said, post match. "They're f*cking animals, to be honest. They work very, very hard, under not easy conditions. Hands down to them, I'm really happy and really proud for them."
As for Aguinaldo, being able to represent the country in the SEA Games has been a long-time dream, and is pleased with how the team was able to perform, given that they didn't have a lot of time to work as a complete unit.
"To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this for maybe six years already. I’m really glad I’m with the team now. I have the opportunity to play in the SEA Games with an incredible group of players. I’m just really happy to be here right now."
"Considering that we only had a few days together as a complete team with Stephan Schrock, me and some other players who came from the senior team, I think everyone did really, really well. We exceeded, I think, the expectations of our coaches. We could have won the game but we’ll try next time," Aguinaldo added.