Azkals set for ‘difficult game’ against Maldives in Challenge Cup semis

Paolo del Rosario

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

The Philippine team has just one team standing between them and a berth in the AFC Challenge Cup finals

MALDIVES SHOWDOWN. Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley feels that the Azkals must play like they did against Turkmenistan to beat a 'great' Maldives team. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines National Men’s Football team is set to face off against host nation Maldives in the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup on Wednesday, May 28, which kicks off at midnight PH time.

The Philippine team, led by former US captain Thomas Dooley, made it to the next stage of the tournament by virtue of two wins and a draw in Group B play, while Maldives booked their first ever appearance in the semis with a win, a draw and a loss.

The Philippines will be hoping to improve on their third place finish in the previous edition of the Challenge Cup, but will have to do so without key players. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and defender Juani Guirado are still out with thigh and knee injuries respectively, while forward Reuben Doctora is doubtful due to a knee injury.

Defender Dennis Cagara left the squad due to commitments with his Danish club Lyngby BK. Cagara’s departure was agreed upon ahead of time by the management of both the Philippines and Lyngby BK. 

The Maldives find themselves with a clean bill of health and with no players suspended for the match. 

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley acknowledged the difficulty of facing the host nation. “We know that the semifinal match will be a very difficult game for us because (it’s their) home ground and you know (they are) a great team,” said in an interview with ABS-CBN.

He remained confident that the Azkals have enough to book their place in the finals. After the Philippines victory against Turkmenistan, Dooley was certain that “If we (play like we) did today, we can do what we want.” 

Maldives coach Drago Mamic meanwhile is expecting that his charges will be 100% ready for the match. “Our aim is to win the tournament and I am sure we are in a good situation to win the tournament and all the players are available for this game. We don’t want to disappoint our beautiful fans.” said Mamic. 

The last time these two sides met was during the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. The Philippines lost 3-2 to the Maldives and found themselves eliminated in the qualifying round of the tournament.  

The winner of the Philippines-Maldives game will face the winner of the Afghanistan vs. Palestine semifinal matchup. The winner of the tournament will earn a spot in the Asian Cup tournament next year in Australia. –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI