Philippine Azkals target outright Asian Cup qualification with a win over Yemen
An injury-plagued Philippine Azkals will go all out for a win against Yemen in a crucial Group F match in the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifying Tournament at the Al Wakra Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
A draw, however, won’t be bad for a squad missing veteran players like striker Javier Patiño, Misagh Bahadoran, Manny Ott, Amani Aguinaldo, Luke Woodland and many more.
In the pre-match press conference by the two squads, Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley says the team is ready to make the adjustments needed against a tough opponent.
“We respect the Yemen team. They are very good offensively, very strong. We have to be very careful. We want to survive,” Dooley said.Dooley acknowledged the fact that their opponents have been together for more than a month now. An advantage they have over the Azkals.
“Yemen is really a strong team. You could see that they have developed in the last couple of years. Abraham (Mabraito) the Yemen coach is really doing a good job. And they have prepared for this game.”
Despite the injuries, Dooley says they are young players willing enough to take the cudgels in the absence of their more experienced peers. “If we don’t lose tomorrow that would be great. That’s the main focus. We don’t want to lose. A tie would be great. I’ll be happy with a tie,” Dooley added.
Team captain Phil Younghusband admitted they don’t know what to expected from Yemen. But in order to win or extract a point against the “host” team, Younghusband insisted the Azkals should learn from their game against the same team in Bacolod City last month.
“If we make the same mistakes, if we allow them the same gaps, Yemen will surely take advantage. We must rectify those mistakes,” Younghusband explained.For their part, Yemen will also go for the win to keep their bid in reaching the Asian Cups finals in UAE alive.
“We will go for the full three points. That’s why we are here,” Mabraito added. The Philippines will face Yemen, 6pm (11pm Manila time) tomorrow at the Al Wakra Stadium. A win by the Azkals will give then 10 points which will guarantee the Philippines at least the second spot of Group F at the end of the group stage.
By Erel Cabatbat