Rota sad about Suzuki Cup absence but has high hopes on Azkals

By Ivan Saldajeno

TAGUIG—Stallion star Simone Rota will undergo surgery on his injured ACL, putting him on the sidelines for the national football team’s Suzuki Cup campaign.

And with the Azkals hosting the group stage in November, Rota expressed his disappointment of being out for the said tournament.

“Honestly, I cried a lot, because this is the first time the tournament will come here in [the] Philippines. It’s hard [that I won’t] be there in the Suzuki Cup. I’m not young anymore,” the 32-year-old midfielder told a group of media people on Wednesday night at Club Haze during the anniversary celebration of appliance brand TCL, where Rota was named among its newest endorsers.

But even if he will be out for the next seven months, Rota believes the Azkals can still dominate Southeast Asia’s premier football tournament as their road to making the AFC Asian Cup continues.

“Of course they will do fine—100 percent. [They] just need good friendly games and [better preparation] for the Suzuki Cup. We still have time, so no reason for complaining. This is a strong team. They can work from their mistakes,” he added.

The Azkals’ Suzuki Cup build-up suffered huge stumbling blocks over the weekend after bowing to Bahrain and North Korea in friendlies by identical 1-3 final scorelines.

But for the veteran, there is no reason to blame Coach Tom Dooley’s wards for the poor performance considering the time they have been together.

“It’s the first time they played together, so we need to give time for the young players to adjust themselves,” continued Rota.

He also believes the younger national team core is a key for the squad to finally get past the semifinals and even win the title.

“We don’t have to panic about that, because we have young players, and we have time. It’s not about the age, because you can have a 19-year-old guy yet can be more mature in play. I believe that we will be good for the tournament,” Rota concluded.

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