What’s next for Azkals after retirement of key players?

azkals philippines football
Photo credits to Sheker

Philippine men’s football team old hands Rob Gier, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders, and Juani Guirado all announced their retirement from international duty a month apart. With the Azkals’ campaign at the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers already done, let us look ahead and assess how this spate of retirements would affect the squad.

The immediate effect

What’s glaring looking at the list of retirees is that three of them are defenders. The backline suddenly became shallow as a road puddle. That leaves regulars Simone Rota, Daisuke Sato, and Amani Aguinaldo manning the positions in front of the goalkeeper, and a lot is left to be desired as they usually leak forward attacks and rely on Neil Etheridge, or whoever is manning between the sticks, to bail them out. And things won’t be easier until this is addressed.

These are just one of the things we should expect as sports fans as athletes age and move on, and we are left to ponder on the future. However, there are good things that can come out of this.

Dooley’s youth movement starting to bear fruit

With national team coach Thomas Dooley giving a premium on youth, this means that more up and coming booters can be called up. We already saw that in the final two playdates of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers as the average age of the roster considerably went down and we witnessed the rousing debut of Miguel Tanton. In the match against North Korea, Rota and Guirado were the only ones above 30 years old.

This only bodes well as the lineup that was fielded that fateful Tuesday night of March 29 could most likely compose the core for the coming Suzuki Cup and even the third round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. The national football program hasn’t been this forward-looking in recent memory.

To conclude, the expected talent drop that could be experienced after this deluge of departures is nothing but a mere bump on the road as we continue to aspire for long-term progress and development.


  • Ma. Teresa Baliola says:

    My son who will be 17 on July interested to get into your team. He is passionate about football. We live in Honduras, where soccer is the sport.Thank you and hope for your reply.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Hi Maria Teresa Baliola. Thank you for your comment but this is not the official Azkals website, it is run by local soccer fans.

      I suggest you contact and ask if there are available try outs.

  • Samuel Alonso says:

    If you guys want to become champion , Why dont you lookat my 2 sons that are playing soccer they are the hidden gems that you are missing Justin Alonso and CJ Alonso , you will get 2 future soccer players and can Play any position . Lookat them Play here in Georgia . Justin is currently palying in college and CJ in highschool . I am from Davao and my wife from Cebu. If you are interested send us an email.

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