Azkals captain Schrock sets sights on 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers

Shrock: 'We want to prove ourselves in the group and advance'
stephan schrock
Philippine Azkals captain Stephan Schrock (MB File Photo)

Team captain Stephan Schrock is keeping a determined focus on the Philippine Azkals’ goal of progressing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers despite the postponement of its remaining second round matches to next year.

FIFA and the AFC had earlier announced that the joint second round qualifying matches set for October and November were rescheduled anew as the countries continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schrock, however, sees the extended break as a chance for the Azkals to make further plans.

“We still want to prove ourselves in the group and advance and gameplan doesn’t change,” Schrock said. “Football is the biggest thing for us but we do understand there is higher responsibility than just playing the game and we accept that and we make most out of it. 

“This gives us more time to process things within the Azkals and we’ll take it on a positive note regardless of how badly we want to play,” added Schrock.

The Azkals are currently third in Group A with seven points after five matches, eight behind leader Syria and level with China which has the edge in goal difference.

The top team and possibly the second placer in the group will advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers while securing a direct spot in the Asian Cup. The third-ranked team and possibly the fourth will make it to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.

Schrock and the rest of the Azkals have not been in action since Nov. 2019 when they fell 1-0 to Syria in Dubai.

The Azkals were supposed to host Guam last March at the Rizal Memorial Stadium but the pandemic forced the suspension of the qualifiers.

“We always look forward to the national team and international break, but it is understandable and reasonable that, due to COVID-19 we cannot push through with some events as officials, players, staff and fans will be at risk,” Schrock said.