Philippines defender Simone Rota 'praying' to be fit for AFF Suzuki Cup
Philippines defender Simone Rota says he is "praying about making the Suzuki Cup" after a knee injury though his AFF dreams into jeopardy.
The Italy-raised fullback, who's one of a core of Philippine national players with European roots like midfielders Stephan Schrock and Martin Steuble, should know in the next week if he will be able to make the biennial tournament.
The 31-year-old, who helped the Azkals make the semifinals of the 2014 Suzuki Cup, hurt himself when playing for his UFL club side Stallion against JP Voltes on Aug. 20.
"I was running, with maybe 10 minutes left in the game and trying to anticipate the striker, and then my boot got stuck in the artificial grass," Rota told ESPN FC.
"As revealed by an MRI scan, I have a partial ACL and PCL tear, and will undergo a functional and movement test in seven days' time to determine if surgery is required or not."
Rota, who has scored two international goals in 21 appearances since making his Azkals' debut in 2014, added that he would do everything he can to make it onto Thomas Dooley's squad. Philippines, co-hosts along with Myanmar, will be in Group A, along with defending champions Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.
"If no surgery required, recovery will depend on my body, but I will be out for only a month, and will be available for action in the Suzuki Cup," he said.
"I'm praying about making the Suzuki Cup lineup, and also the Asian Cup qualifiers next year."
Rota, who was born into an orphanage near Manila before being adopted by Italian parents, has become accustomed to overcoming physical challenges. He's a player renowned for his toughness, and all-action style.
"Last year I broke two of my ribs. After four months, I've broken them again," he said.
"So I have to recover again. And then, I get the knee injury. But it's OK, God always gives me a hard way to play, and this is what I have to do."
Philippines will face Singapore in their opening match of the Suzuki Cup on Nov. 19 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue.
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