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’Cornered Azkals will fight to the end.’ —Eriksson

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By Erel Cabatbat

(Dubai, UAE).—With their backs against the wall and the odds stacked against their favor, the Philippine Azkals will need to dig deep to keep their hopes alive in progressing to the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 here in Dubai, UAE.

The Azkals are still searching for the breakthrough goal and currently at the bottom of Group C after back-to-back losses against powerhouse teams South Korea and China.

Despite this, the Azkals’ head coach Sven Goran Eriksson remains optimistic the Philippines will get one of the four best third slots after the group stage.

“There is a possibility and as long as there is a possibility we will continue to fight,’ Eriksson during the pre-match interview a day before the must win encounter against Kyrgyz Republic. A win against Kyrgyzstan, however, is not a guarantee that the Azals will be through to the last 16. The Azkals’ fate will also be decided by the results of crucial matches between several teams also looking to go through to the next round via the four best third rule in the six group tournament.

The Azkals need to get the full three points and pray that the other struggling teams in other groups draw or lose their remaining game.

They need to finish the tournament at either two points or less for the Azkals to advance. Both the Azkals and Kyrgyzstan lost their games against the South Korean and Chinese. “We are at the same situation as they are so there’s a struggle. We have a chance but it is going to a tough game. They have good runners, good strikers,” Eriksson added.

Like his coach, Azkals’ forward Patrick Reichelt is not also losing hope that the team will not play its last game in the tournament despite the odds. “It is a chance for us to score against a good team that we beat before. All we can do is fight game long, chase the game and get the result that is hopefully enough for us to go through.

The Philippines will meet the Kyrgyz Republic tomorrow at the Rashid Stadium at 9.30pm Manila time.

The Philippine Azkals train at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai a day before their must-win game against Kyrgyzstan in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE.