Asian football

Azkals and Brunei vie for breakthrough AFF Championship win

Juro Morilla

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Azkals and Brunei vie for breakthrough AFF Championship win

LEADER. Stephan Schrock (right) and the Azkals aim for at least a semifinal finish in the Suzuki Cup.


New Azkals head coach Josep Ferré aims for a home debut win following a shock loss to Cambodia at the 2022 AFF Championship and wants fans to fill up the Rizal Memorial Stadium

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals will look to bounce back and grab their first victory in the 2022 AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup as they take on fellow winless squad Brunei on Friday, December 23, 6 pm, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

After losing their opening match versus Cambodia in a 2-3 stunner, Azkals head coach Josep Ferré shared that the Azkals are concentrating on getting back to their winning ways, saying, “It is important that we play good and we get the 3 points so that’s what we’re focused on.” 

Ferré added, “We want to win three points, so we want to dominate the game, we want to keep the ball much more than them as much as possible, but we don’t want to keep the ball just to keep it.”

“We want to keep the ball to attack and to be near the goal and to kick many times to shoot many times to attempt to a goal so we have to go very offensive,” he continued.

The Philippines are currently in fourth place in a five-team group with 0 points and a -1 goal difference after falling short against Cambodia last Tuesday, December 21.

Grabbing a win in their next game will boost the Azkals’ chances of finishing as one of the top two teams in Group A and book their ticket to the semifinal round.

Luckily for them, the match versus Brunei will be played at home and Ferré is expecting the fans to flock the stadium and cheer on the Azkals.

“I would like to see this stadium with many fans and that’s what we would like,” said Ferré, who is also aiming to notch a home debut win as an Azkals head coach.

“One reason is because the team will be stronger if we feel the support of the fans that’s always like this.”

He added, “On the other side, we want to give a good result and a good performance to the fans and we want that they see life in the stadium, so we are expecting that people come and people come to the stadium, and is happy with the performance of the team and happy with the result that we get.”

Echoing the thoughts of his head coach, Azkals team captain Stephan Schröck emphasized that it was vital for the team to recover from their previous match and he too wants to give the home fans a quality match to watch.

“After the [Cambodia] game, it was about recovering and regrouping.”

“It’s the first home game I think after the SEA Games we ever have for the senior national team at least so we owe it to us or to our group or to the country for a good performance and we’ve worked on that in different ways the last two days and we’re looking forward for the game tomorrow,” explained the veteran winger.

Brunei, meanwhile, sits at the bottom of Group A with 0 points and a -5 goal difference following its lopsided loss to defending champion Thailand. 

Mario Gomez, Brunei’s head coach, said that the match against the Philippines will be different from their previous match, but indicated his team will “try to win and try to play better.”

Gomez also expects the Azkals to play better after their own opening defeat, “They will be better, they have a new coach and when you have a new coach, you have to adjust many things and they only played one game before that.”

“They have good players and if they can correct some things, they’ll can be more competitive and play a high level than the Cambodia game.”

Indonesia is the last team in the group who have yet to play a single match, but the Indonesians will battle Thailand for their opener in Jakarta a couple of hours before the Philippines and Brunei clash. –

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