Blow for Azkals & Ceres as Manny Ott ruled out for six weeks

Philippines have been a dealt a huge blow ahead of next Tuesday’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Yemen after midfield lynchpin Manny Ott was ruled out for six weeks with a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury.

The 25-year-old, who has established himself as a key member of Thomas Dooley’s side since 2014, announced the injury on his official Twitter account from Qatar, where their clash with Yemen will be played at the neutral venue of the Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium.

Ott’s injury will also have repercussions for club side Ceres-Negros, who are currently vying to be the inaugural champions of the Philippines Football League.

The Busmen are currently third on the table but are only trailing leaders Meralco Manila by nine points and have five games in hand, due to their AFC Cup commitments earlier this season.

But, with a flurry of fixtures coming up for Ceres, Ott could be absent for a significant portion of the title run-in.

Even if the German-born Filipino returns by the middle of November, he is set to miss at least seven matches and Ceres will be desperately hoping he returns in time for a potentially-decisive meeting with Meralco on November 24.

However, the immediate concern is how Dooley will cope without his combative and creative presence in the engine room, when the Azkals look to take one step closer to United Arab Emirates 2019 next Tuesday.

At present, the likes of Kevin Ingreso and Paul Mulders could be asked to fill the void, although another option could be for Dooley to play captain and star striker Phil Younghusband in a withdrawn role, as he did at last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup.