Defense key in Azkals' Suzuki Cup campaign
MANILA, Philippines – The Azkals are once again on a prowl at the Vietnamese capital as they take on the big guns of the ASEAN Football Federation for the biennial Suzuki Cup tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam starting Saturday, November 22.
The Philippines' men's national football will open their group stage crusade against qualification round runners-up Laos during the opening day of the competition, followed by a game against Indonesia on November 25 before finally taking on hosts Vietnam on the 28th.
All games of the Azkals will be played at the My Dinh National Stadium, the home of the Vietnamese national football team.
“Hopefully, before our first game we will be able to address all those problems that we have with the team especially with the formation and the defense,” Team manager Dan Palami said in an interview.
He also said the team would be focusing on their offensive finishes to enhance the team’s chances of qualifying for the next rounds.
“Of course the finishing also so that ‘yung chance natin para makapasok sa (to enter the) semifinals and win the championship will be better.”
A roster of 21 players, together with the team management, made the trip to Hanoi last Wednesday, November 19.
Team skipper Rob Gier together with James Younghussband, Phil Younghusband, Juani Guirado, Misagh Bahadoran, Chris Greatwich, Simon Greatwich, Manny Ott, Paul Mulders, Daisuke Sato, Amani Aguinaldo, Martin Stueble, Simone Rota, Mark Hartmann, Curt Dizon. Patrick Reichelt, Kenshiro Daniels, Jerry Lucena, Patrick Deyto, Tomas Trigo and Dennis Villanueva will be suiting up for the Azkals.
All eyes will be on homegrown goalkeeper Deyto as he will be manning the two posts of the goal due to the absence of Roland Muller and Neil Etheridge, who both have club duties and will not be available in the group stage matches.
Although the team had been around for a while, it was in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup when the Azkals started getting the attention of Filipino sports fans.
They were undefeated in the group stage and took down then defending champions Vietnam to notch one of the biggest upsets in the tournament's history. Unfortunately the team fell to Indonesia in the semifinals. – Rappler.com