Tag Archives: Rob Gier

Rob Gier: What is Best for the Team

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With Rob Gier set to miss the friendly against Maldives, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash against Uzbekistan, the Azkals defender hopes that the squad continue to improve as a team especially after the latest FIFA rankings.

Last month, the Philippines went to their highest FIFA ranking in history at 124th. However this month’s rankings saw the Azkals move down to 125th but retained as the number one side in South East Asia.

“Obtaining a higher ranking is obviously great,” said Gier. “I believe we should be aiming to get as close to the top 100 as possible, you can see from our result against Bahrain that it is feasible and not a dream anymore.”

The Azkals defender pointed out that both Luke Woodland and Phil Younghusband should step up for the team to reach greater heights.

Luke Woodland — who was given clearance by FIFA to play — made his debut for the Philippines in the 2-0 win against Yemen. The defender thought that Woodland had “a solid steady performance” in central defense. The 19-year-old defender also linked up well with Jerry Lucena, Daisuke Sato, and Neil Etheridge at the back.

“There is no doubt he will come up against stiffer opposition throughout his Azkals career but for his first game he did really well,” said Gier. “He is a big talent and I’m sure he will have a very big future with the National Team.  You certainly haven’t seen the best of him yet.”

Gier also heaped praise on Younghusband after leading the team in the Qualifiers. During the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, Younghusband was named captain in the first two games of the tournament. Gier went on to lead the side in their final three matches of the competition.

“Phil and I are very different types of captains and his way of inspiring the team is totally different from mine,” said Gier. “We both want what is best for the team and it doesn’t matter if we are wearing the armband or not, we will always give 100%.”

Younghusband and Coach Thomas Dooley bared their thoughts as well.

“You learn a lot of things from him,” said Younghusband He is a great leader and I look up to him. It helps me a lot.”

“It’s just an armband,” said Dooley. “If you’re playing and you don’t have (the armband) on, you can still talk to the referee, organize the team, and be a leader for the younger players on the field.”

The Philippines face Maldives on September 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. It will be followed with the match against Uzbekistan on September 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium. Tickets for both games are available at all TicketWorld Outlets.

Azkals Squad for September Matches Named

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The Philippine Football Federation announced the training pool for the upcoming FIFA International break earlier today.

The Azkals will host two matches during the break, beginning with a friendly against Maldives on September 3 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The next game will be the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against top-seed Uzbekistan on September 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Coach Thomas Dooley made three changes to the 23-man squad from the first two games of the Qualifiers. Defender Rob Gier has pulled out from the squad because of a knee injury. Forward Mark Hartmann and goalkeeper Tomas Trigo have also been omitted from the list.

Replacing the trio in the lineup are goalkeeper Roland Muller and midfielder Paul Mulders. Muller’s last appearance for the Azkals was in the 2014 Peace Cup. Mulders last played in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup and he currently plays for Ceres La Salle FC in the UFL.

A surprise inclusion is Global FC goalkeeper Jun Jun Badelic. Badelic played in the AFC U-23 Championships and the 2015 SEA Games. He got the nod over UFL goalkeepers Tomas Trigo of Loyola Meralco Sparks, Louie Casas of League champions Ceres La Salle, and resurgent Paolo Pascual of Green Archers United FC.

The Azkals squad includes Amani Aguinaldo, Misagh Bahadoran, Kenshiro Daniels, Patrick Deyto, Neil Etherdige, Juani Guirado, Kevin Ingreso, Jerry Lucena, Manny Ott, Stephan Palla, Javier Patiño, Iain Ramsay, Patrick Reichelt, Simone Rota, Daisuke Sato, Stephan Schrock, Martin Steuble, Dennis Villanueva, Luke Woodland, and Phil Younghusband.

The Azkals will return to training on Monday, August 31, three days after the UFL Cup wraps up. — CAL

Gier: We Surprised a Few People

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Azkals defender Rob Gier could not have asked for a better start in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The Philippines won their first two games in Group H to end up second behind leaders DPR Korea.

According to Gier, the Azkals surprised a few people in the Qualifiers because of the new system coach Thomas Dooley played with the squad. The defender started for the Azkals in the 2-1 win against Bahrain last June 11 at the Philippine Sports Stadium.

“The team performed extremely well,” recounted Gier. “We adjusted to the new system and we also found good cohesion despite there being many new faces in the squad.” The Azkals trained with 4 new players — Kevin Ingreso, Stephan Palla, Iain Ramsey, and Luke Woodland — and returnees Neil Etheridge, Javier Patiño, and Stephan Schrock.

The Azkals continued their spirited start in the Qualifiers with a 2-0 win over Yemen last June 16th. However, Gier did not play for the squad in that game due to an injury that bothered him during the Bahrain game.

“I had a severe pain in my right knee — it was also one of the reason I was left out of the starting XI vs Yemen,” said Gier. “I was told to rest and recuperate but after a number of weeks it still wasn’t getting any better.”

Gier’s injury will be a blow for the Azkals ahead of the Uzbekistan match. The defender broke the news on social media last July 30, but will still join with the team in Manila for the clash against the Central Asian side next month.

“Coach Dooley said he is happy for me to still be around the team after my surgery,” added Gier. “I am extremely happy about this as I want to do as much as possible to help the team, even though I can’t step on the pitch.” Gier will have a surgery on his knee when he flies to Manila next month.

The Azkals continue their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with a match against Uzbekistan on September 8, 2015 at the Philippine Sports Stadium. Tickets are available now. — CAL

Still Questioning the Filipino

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“I really wanted to butt in there,” a frustrated Phil Younghusband said after the pre-match press conference at the Edsa Shangri-La.

Bahrain’s media officer had asked a question during the press conference. It wasn’t a question that no one had asked before. In fact, it has been asked over and over in many different countries by many different people.

Does the Philippines just fly in professional footballers from Europe and just give them Philippine nationality? Incredibly, the media officer followed it up before anyone could answer. He gestured to Phil and said that he had what was remarkably close to the accent of the people from England.

Yes, of course Phil has an English accent, and so do Neil Etheridge, Mark Hartmann, and Rob Gier. Manny Ott, Patrick Reichelt, and Stephan Schrock have German accents, and if you get caught in the middle of a conversation among them, Martin Steuble, and the coaches, good luck to you.

And then of course there is the Spanish contingent composed of Juani Guirado, Javier Patiño, y Tomas Trigo. Hearing them speak in Spanish or English with a smattering of Tagalog harks back to Rizal and the Ilustrados. Jerry Lucena speaks with a Danish accent.

Kenshiro Daniels speaks English with an American accent, while his father has an English accent but speaks some Filipino. “Sayang, no?” Kenny’s dad asked some of the Kaholeros after the match versus Vietnam in Hanoi last year.

Daisuke Sato (Japan), Misagh Bahadoran (Iran), Simone Rota, and Dennis Villanueva (Italy) have improved their English and Filipino drastically. Just before training at the PSS yesterday evening, Daisuke kindly offered some chocolate wafers that he was snacking on. He then asked Ace to finish them or hold on to them when training was about to start — all in Tagalog. Misagh, of course is famous for his antics, and his accent.

The two grassroots boys, Amani Aguinaldo and Patrick Deyto also have accents, by the way. One has what in Manila is known as a “southern” accent.

The new guys also have accents: Australian (Iain Ramsey), English (Luke Woodland), German (Kevin Ingreso), and Austrian (Stephan Palla).

But do the accents really matter? Do they make someone more or less Filipino?

“Our country is composed of almost 100 million people,” said PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes, “and 10 million of them are not IN the country.” “Most of our players right now just happen to come from the 10 million,” Atty. Gastanes said with a shrug. “It’s that simple.”

“Everyone has Filipino blood although their name may sound different because they have their father’s last name. We feel that this our home — this is where our family, our friends are,” Phil explained, probably hoping he could have some conversation with the guy who asked the question instead of preaching to the choir.

“I find it quite offensive.” Phil was on a roll and no one was going to stop him. “I think it’s always a sensitive question, a tricky question that we deal with. Rob (Gier) has said that the blood that flows through the players based abroad is as thick as the local players. We feel just as Filipino and there is nothing more proud than when we represent the Philippines, we represent the flag and fight for the country.”

In a lot of ways, most of the Azkals had to deal with being Filipino differently from those who grew up in the Philippines. Stories of bullying, not belonging, or outright racism are not uncommon with the members of the team. Having to grow up somewhere where they or their parents did not look like everyone else is not a situation you really have to deal with when in the Philippines.

And then there is the fact that they chose to represent the Philippines. They could have opted not to, they could have stayed where they were and lived out their lives.

Some argue that they chose to represent the country because they weren’t called up in the country where they were born or grew up in. While this may be true for some of them, it does not take away the fact that they still chose the Philippines. They disrupt their lives to fly out here for a few weeks each year, to a climate they are not used to, to play a game. Some of them have used football to come home to the Philippines and make a living here. The bottomline is that they chose the Philippines.

It is funny to note too, by the way, that Bahrain actually has a naturalised player in their squad right now — Jaycee John Okwunwanne is a Nigerian — and has had a history of naturalising players to join their national team. These players have no Bahraini blood.

It was coach Thomas Dooley who replied to the media officer’s question. He then recounted his own story, that he could play for either Germany or the US since he himself has a parent from each country.

“Everybody who plays for the Philippines has Filipino blood,” stated coach Dooley as a final statement.

At the end of the day, the men who will be wearing white today are as Filipino as you and me, wherever you, I, or they are from.

They are Filipino because of the blood that runs through them from their nanay or tatay, and because they choose to proudly wear that beautiful red, blue, and yellow flag on their chest.

Azkals Experience Philippine Sports Stadium for the First Time

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Several Azkals players shared their thoughts about training at the Philippine Sports Stadium for the first time on Thursday, June 4.

Rob Gier said that the stadium is “an amazing place.” “If you asked me five years ago if we thought we can play in a place like this in a World Cup qualifier, I wouldn’t believe you,” said Gier. “That just shows how far we have come and credit to everyone involved in making this place and Philippine football to have a place like this.”
Newcomers Iain Ramsay, Luke Woodland, and Kevin Ingreso felt the stadium has a different vibe.

“It’s very nice to be here to train at the stadium we are going to play in,” said Ramsay. “I can’t wait to see it packed with Azkals fans.”

“It feels different to play on grass (compared to Rizal),” said Woodland.

“It’s a very big stadium,” shared Ingreso. “It’ll be fun for us to play here.”

Regulars Kenshiro Daniels and Martin Steuble also commented on the stadium.

“I’m really happy we have this place,” said Daniels. “Playing on the grass is worlds different.”

“It was nice to see it for the first time it would be nicer to see the stadium packed,” said Steuble. “That would be great for the Philippines.”
Both midfielder Misagh Bahadoran and defender Daisuke Sato already played in the stadium at club level during Global FC’s stint in the AFC Cup. The pair are hoping to bring the same intensity when they play next week.

“It’s our first time (here) with the Azkals,” said Bahadoran. “Playing for Global was an honor to play here — it was a good experience with the club, but the this time it’s for the national team.”

“This is for the national team now,” echoed Sato. “I always need to make history for the country.”

Coach Thomas Dooley found the stadium “beautiful” but stressed that “the field could have been better but it’s great it’s good to play here.”

“Overall it’s good,” continued the Azkals coach. “It feels good to have a place to have play that is not turf but real grass.”

The World Cup Qualifiers match against Bahrain will be on Thursday, June 11, 2015. Tickets for the match and the roundtrip bus ticket to and from the stadium are available here. — CAL

Rob Gier: Unfair to Compare the Azkals Then and Now

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Azkals veteran Rob Gier found it unfair to compare the accomplishments made by the squad in 2011 to the current squad as the team begin their World Cup campaign next week.

The defender, who made his Azkals debut in 2009, said that the team four years ago was in “a different time, against different opposition, and (different) qualifying format.”

“As a football team and as a country, you want to keep on developing — keep pushing forward,” said Gier. “That team in 2011 had done amazing things. I just hope these guys in the squad can replicate the things we accomplished in the past.”

With four players reinforcing the squad for the qualifiers, Gier hopes that they can jell with the other players in a short amount of time.

“We’ve known about these guys for a long time — they are quality players.” said Gier. “We are footballers and no matter what team we play, it’s the same game wherever we play.”

Gier expects that they will face a different Bahrain squad next Thursday at the Philippine Sports Stadium. The defender was part of the squad that faced the Middle Eastern country in 2012 and at a camp last March.

“We always play against teams we are kinda used to playing against. It just so happened that Bahrain is a similar team to the ones in South East Asia, but the team we played 3 months ago — it won’t be the same team this time,” Gier said. “We’ve done our research, the coaches have done their research. You can’t really go back three months ago as Bahrain will always be a tough opposition. We just want a great start.”

The Azkals skipper also stressed the magnitude of playing for the Philippines as each member of the squad represent each and every Filipino here and abroad.

“This is (our) national team,” said Gier. “Every time you put on the shirt you have to realize you’re representing the 100-plus million people in the country. If that’s not motivation enough for you to do your best, you’re not really playing the game.” — CAL

Rob Gier: Zenith Soccer Tours and What’s Next for the Azkals

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Azkals skipper Rob Gier is already preparing for the life after he hangs up his boots. The defender, who has been with the Azkals since 2009, launched Zenith Soccer Tours early this year in the hopes of providing an unforgettable footballing experience for children. The project itself was started in June 2014.

“It just seems like the natural thing for me to do — to stay in football,” said Gier. “The stars just aligned for me to be able to do this.”

Gier took inspiration from the Philippines Under-11 side, popularly known as the Little Azkals, that went to England in 2013 for a series of training camps.

“I wanted to open this opportunity to other kids as well,” said Gier. “Hopefully we can get more kids to have the same experience — what’s it like in England, the home of football.”

The Azkals defender admitted that “the Philippines is a good place to start” and that in the long term, he will expand to other countries. Currently, Zenith Soccer Tours will only hold one camp this year for children aged 11-14. The camp will be from late July until the first week of August.


“It will be great for them to come along and have a different football experience,” said the 34-year-old. “They will fly to England, train for seven days, watch a live match. It’s not just about the training but also the whole experience.”

Gier held a free training session last Sunday at British School Manila. Azkals teammates, Chris Greatwich of Kaya FC and Simon Greatwich of Loyola Meralco Sparks FC were there to help with the drills. Both the Kaya FC Academy and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC Academy have tied up with Zenith Soccer Tours.

“I know a couple of those guys from those academies but it will not be restricted to them,” said Gier.


The tours costs P180,000 per head. The package is inclusive of flight tickets, a week’s stay at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, match tickets for an English Premier League match and a chance to visit the historic Wembley Stadium.

Aware that the tour’s price is on the expensive side, Gier still hopes that they can bring less fortunate children on the trip through sponsorships — the defender says that he “wants to open this for everyone.”

“I don’t want this to be open just for the affluent families,” said Gier. “It’s my aim to get people from different backgrounds to come along as well. It’s all for the love of football.”


Aside from being busy with Zenith Soccer Tours, Gier also said that the Azkals are in for another big year ahead. The World Cup qualifiers kickoff this June. Gier flew to Bahrain on Sunday night for a training camp with the National Team. A match against the Gulf nation is set for March 30.

“We made good progress last year, but we lost a semis and a big final,” said Gier. “Everyone pressed the reset button. There will be big games for us to play and it’s going to be great.”

Gier also talked about the new players trying to break in the Azkals squad saying that “these guys have proven quality to the team.”

“Maybe we are two or three players away from winning the Suzuki Cup or winning a big game in the qualifiers,” added the defender optimistically.

For more information about the Zenith Soccer Tours, check their website at www.zenith-soccertours.co.uk or contact Rob Gier at info@zenith-soccertours.co.uk. — CAL


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