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Azkals have to regain confidence, says Ramsay

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The last four 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying games of the Philippine national men’s football team (Azkals) have yielded one goal scored, three losses in a run of four games without a win, and nine goals conceded.

Hopes for qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup have ended with the 0-1 loss to Yemen, but the 2019 AFC Asian Cup may still be salvaged. With Uzbekistan away and North Korea at home left for the Azkals, two wins in as many games are needed if the Philippines want to reach UAE come 2019.

“Frustrating game I think. It’s one of those games where if you go 1-0 up then you take the game altogether and that costs us in the end you know because they countered us, they finished a chance and made the 1-0”, said Azkals midfielder Iain Ramsay to members of the media when he was asked about the team’s latest defeat.

Ramsay added, “They made it difficult obviously for us in the dying minutes of the game but we only have ourselves to blame. We had chances in the game and we just have to finish one of them.”

The Azkals had numerous chances to score in the game. If one of those chances had been converted into a goal, then it might have been a close 1-0 victory for the home side. Ramsay admitted, “I think we gave them too much respect. The team should have been pressing a lot higher. For some reason we sat a little deep. In the second half, definitely changed. We had a good talk at halftime. We pressed a lot higher in the second half but as I said you know with the chances we created, we need to finish at least one of them and it’s a different game altogether.”

Heads dropped for the Azkals at the sound of the final whistle. A win on home soil had been mandatory for the Azkals to have a chance to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. An 83rd minute goal from Yemen condemned the Azkals, and virtually closed any door left for the World Cup.

For Ramsay, there is only one thing the Azkals can do at this point with two games left. “We still have a chance obviously for the Asian Cup. We have to really look at that. Be focused. We have the quality in the group to turn things around again. We had a great start obviously to the qualifiers and we need to get back at that stage again.”

The 2019 AFC Asian Cup might not have been the primary target, but it would represent progress for Philippine football if the Azkals were to qualify. Despite the result, Ramsay still believes that the Azkals have enough talent to pull something off. “As I said we have to regroup and I’m sure that the quality we have in the team and the coaching staff, we can get wins again. It’s all about confidence now. Once we get a win again, we’ll get that confidence back as we did in the first few games in the qualifiers and once we do that, the best is yet to come for this team. “

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Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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