Azkals one win away from Suzuki Cup semis
MANILA, Philippines – After collecting two wins in the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, the Philippine Azkals are in prime position to make it to the semifinals. (READ: Depleted Azkals halt Timor Leste for 2nd win)
But the group stage is far from over and the Azkals are determined to overcome one of the toughest road blocks in the biennial cup tournament: Thailand.
"It’s a big match of course," said Azkals head coach Sven-Göran Eriksson.
"This match is a good opportunity for us to go through the semifinals and to win the group as well so it’s very important."
Thailand is in pole position to win the group after cruising past Timor Leste and Indonesia – which was no surprise for the Southeast Asian powerhouse.
But if the Philippines managed to win and take 3 points away from Thailand, not only would it secure the Azkals a semifinal berth, but it would also end their 46-year drought against the Thais.
The last time a Philippine team won against Thailand was on June 12, 1972 in the Jakarta Trophy tournament with a 1-0 victory.
"If we can get good results [on Wednesday], it will give us confidence for the rest of the tournament, so we go now, give everything we’ve got for the country, we’re excited," said captain Phil Younghusband, who has gone head-to-head with Thailand countless times since he suited up for the national team in 2006.
Although Azkals fans have witnessed many heartbreaks against the Thais, the Philippine side hopes to get extra energy from its home crowd in Pana-ad Park and Stadium, Bacolod on Wednesday, November 21, 8 pm.
In the first leg of the 2014 Suzuki Cup semifinal, the Philippines nabbed its best result against Thailand – a 0-0 draw – in front of the home crowd. However, the Thais found their offensive power in the second leg and blanked the Azkals, 3-0, which denied them of a finals berth.
"Thailand is a strong team, they had a good start, and no matter which players they put out they’ve always been a strong team and we’ve found out about that in the past," said Younghusband.
But as the Nationals field their best roster yet under former England World Cup coach Eriksson and senior football advisor Scott Cooper, the Azkals look to pull off a monumental upset. – Rappler.com
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