With three matches remaining in the group phase of the Joint 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, the Philippine national men’s football team [Azkals] Head Coach Thomas Dooley reiterated the urgent need to win their match against Yemen on the following day in a pre-match press conference held at the Manila Hotel, Wednesday morning.
Dooley categorically stated, “[The match tomorrow] is absolutely a must-win game. That should not hinder us to play our game. We should not make it too difficult for us. We should push everything we have.” He also added that a win tomorrow would give the Azkals a chance to move to the next round. Dooley also believed that such result will boost the morale of the team. He said, “[It is] the feeling that if you win this game, you are still alive, and you still have three months to prepare for Uzbekistan, is really good for everybody – for the fans, for PFF, for the players, for our coaching staff.”
The Azkals coach, however, is not taking the opponent lightly. He cautioned, “Who knows how they’ll [Yemeni team] show up tomorrow? They want to win the game. They want to beat us.” Nevertheless, Dooley believes that his wards will deliver if they show up with good performances in the match.
The Philippine national men’s football team is currently third in Group H, behind leaders Korea DPR and Uzbekistan, and hard-pressed to make it to the top two due to inferior goal difference. Dooley shared that despite this problem, the Azkals would still try to get wins on defense. He said, “If we win 1-0 against Yemen, I will be very happy.”
Regarding personnel, the Azkals will miss the services of Team Captain Phil Younghusband, who is suspended in the match due to yellow card accumulation. Dooley also shared that Roland Muller will be starting in goal tomorrow instead of Neil Etheridge, who suffered a cut on the knee in one of his latest games with his club, Walsall FC.
Long-time Azkal Stephan Schrock, who gets the nod to be the team’s skipper for this match, shared his delight at being chosen. Schrock also believes the team is confident they will bounce back after the loss to Bahrain. He said, “We all know how important this game is could be for the future. We’ll give our best so that we’ll get the three points here. I trust the coach; I trust the team.” Schrock said that despite the team’s limited time training together, the team will do its best tomorrow. “When it comes to game day, everybody is sharp and 100% focused on the work we’re doing. That’s why I’m confident,” he ended.
The match between the Philippines and Yemen kicks off at 8pm on Thursday, November 12 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Tickets are still available at TicketWorld through its online site and its major outlets in these following prices: Category 1 (Php 1500), Category 2 (Php 1000), Category 3 (Php 500), Category 4 (Php 300), and Category 5 (Php 150).
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