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Aussie defender back home after Filipino nightmare

Joshua Grommen in action for former club Ceres-Negros. Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Australian centre back Josh Grommen is on the hunt for a new club with the future of the Phillipines Football League season in serious doubt.

Grommen made five appearances for Filipino side Ceres-Negros this year, scoring one goal in the AFC Cup, since joining them from Thai club Sukhothai in January before the season was shut down because of the Coronavirus.

The Philippines Football League was supposed to start on March 21, but now is expected to start in July.

The island country has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 34,000 cases and over 1,120 deaths.

Grommen was in lockdown for 12 weeks in his 50 square metre apartment in the city of Bacolod, but has now returned to Australia.

“It’s not the best for the club as Ceres is a big team in Asia." he told The World Game.

“In regards to Philippines football, who knows what will happen as the amount of cases is growing and I don’t know if teams can afford to pay players anymore.

“The virus is pretty bad at the moment in the Philippines as they have been getting around 600 cases a day.”

Founded in 2012, Ceres-Negros are one of the biggest clubs in the south-east Asian country, and have won the Philippines Football League for the past three years in a row.

They went into the qualifying rounds for the Asian Champions League this year but were knocked out in a 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo.

Grommen admits he struggled being in severe lockdown, unable to train and reduced to doing stair runs and core strength in his apartment building in a bid to stay fit. But the 23-year-old is now glad to be home.

“I just got out of quarantine here in Sydney so it’s good to have freedom after being in lockdown in the Philippines for three months,” he said.

“The first two months we weren’t allowed to leave our apartment unless we went to buy groceries so we were pretty much in prison.

I had my missus with me at the time so it was good she kept me company, although some days we argued as you would expect being in a small place.”

The centre back, who spent time with Brisbane Roar’s reserves as a youngster, is now a free agent but is unsure where his next move will be.

“At the moment I’m looking into clubs back in south-east Asia such as Thailand, maybe even India, but with the whole virus situation it’s currently impossible to go overseas as borders are currently closed till maybe next year,” he said.

“I’ve been looking into NPL in Brisbane just to stay match-fit till things get better.”

Born and raised in Brisbane, Grommen came through the Queensland Academy of Sport and the Roar’s youth team.

He has represented the Azkals at Under-22 and Under-23 national level and has had spells playing in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Source SBS The World Game