Young defender might be the answer to Azkals’ defensive woes

YOUNG DEFENDER. Josh Grommen is just waiting for a call from Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY —THE Philippine Azkals defense has been leaky nowadays. This showed in their 1-5 loss from the hands of a strong Uzbekistan side at home in the Asian World Cup qualifying match at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

That loss was because three of the Azkals reliable defenders Juani Guirado, Rob Gier and Simone Rotta did not play.

The reliable starters are all injured and possibly will no suit up for the rest of the Russian World Cup qualifying matches.

With this concern, coach Thomas Dooley has experimented on some of the players like putting defensive midfielder Jerry Lucena at the back four.

Of course the loss to the Uzbeks revealed that the experiment did not work and coach Dooley is now in frantic mood looking for reliable defenders to fill up the leak.

Australia based young Filipino defender Josh Grommen might be the plug that could fix the Philippine Azkals’ defensive hole.

According to former Philippines’ Mr. Football Elmer Lacknet Bedia 19-year-old son of Filipina expat Alma Bulan from province of Isabela and Dutch expat Rudy Grommen is now ripe to be a member of the senior Philippine Azkals team.

The former central defender for the Philippine U-23 team saw action in the AFC U-23 2016 Championship qualifying tournament in Bangkok, last March. At 6-ft-0, he has the height, the body and the skills to be in the senior team Bedia said.

Josh was named to the U-23 team in the Singapore Southest Asiad Games in June but was cut before the tournament could start.

Despite of failing to make the Singapore SEAGames, Josh remains positive that one day coach Dooley will name him to the senior Azkals team.

At this point he said he has not spoken to coach Dooley yet but he is hoping to stage a comeback in the United Football League and make an impression on the American Azkals coach.

Josh played for the Meralco Sparks last season and admits that his stint in the UFL was unforgettable specially the match he played against the best team in the Philippines, Ceres FC of Bacolod city.

He also remembers the match against Thailand in Bangkok during during the AFC U-23 qualifying match where the Philippine U-23 team played in front of more than 50,000 supporters.

The former Brisbane Roar Youth team defensive midfielder now has lots of options in front of him and he is looking forward to find a team in the Australian League or comeback to the Philippines to play in the UFL again.

He also remembers his experience playing for the Brisbane Roar youth team at a very young age as one of his most memorable moments of his young football career.

Josh has a bright future ahead of him.He also credits his very supportive parents Alma and Rudy as the persons who have inspired him in playing the beautiful game.

He is also a doting brother to his nine-year-old sister Janis a gifted gymnast.

Josh footballing talent is starting to get notice now. He has two other countries to play for in international competitions, Holland and Australia but his heart is Filipino and he wants only to play for the Azkals.

His ambition is to be an Azkal legend just like his idol and former teammate Phil Younghusband. (l.biantan@gmail.com)

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