MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals are banking their hopes on the game against Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, January 16, where they need a big win to boost their chances of advancing to the Round of 16 in the 2019 Asian Cup by finishing among the best 4 third-placers in the tournament.
“If we can get 3 points there, then we’ve got every chance of qualifying to the next round,” said Azkals captain Phil Younghusband.
Kyrgyzstan – which lost 1-0 to South Korea – is still ahead of the Philippines at 3rd place due to goal difference and its scored goal against China in its opening game.
The Azkals have to win against Kyrgyzstan by at least one goal, while hoping for third-placed countries in other groups to drop their games.
The following scenarios will allow the Azkals to advance to the Round of 16:
In Group A, Thailand has to lose to host United Arab Emirates by two goals and India must not lose to Bahrain for the War Elephants to remain at third place.
Jordan and Australia must at least draw their last group B matches that will allow for Syria and Palestine to remain at most with 2 points each.
The 3rd and 4th placers in Groups D, E and F are in a similar situation as the Philippines in Group C where the teams have no wins.
Draws in the following games – Vietnam-Yemen, North Korea-Lebanon, Turkmenistan-Oman – will assure the Philippines of a spot in the Round of 16 provided that the Azkals take home the 3 points.
Compared to the match against China last January 11, the Philippine men’s football team will be able to get more rest prior to its last group stage game.
The Nationals hoped for a better result against group leader China after a positive run against Asian powerhouse South Korea last January 7, but fatigue showed on the pitch which was a big factor to the 3-0 loss.
“I think the game the other day (against South Korea) took its toll. We had a shorter break,” said Azkals captain Phil Younghusband.
The Philippine men’s football team had to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi within the 3 days of rest, which was clearly not enough for them to recover.
“When it’s still 0-0, you still have a bit of confidence, a bit of drive but when they scored, I think you could see [how tired we were],” added Younghusband.
China opened the floodgates in the 40th minute as Chinese Super League star Wu Lei quickly converted an assist from Hao Jun at the edge of the box.
By then, momentum shifted to favor the Chinese side as the Azkals struggled to create chances and pile pressure when the Dragons handled the ball.
“We’re all disappointed [with] the result… We fought,” said midfielder Stephan Schrock.
“We tried to make it a difficult game for China. We got got caught on two set-pieces which is sayang because we were aware of the quality of China especially that they are a physical team.” – Rappler.com