Azkals brace for Maldives booters

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The Philippine Azkals, now 140th in FIFA rankings, will collide against host Maldives at 9 p.m. tonight (Maldives time) in the semifinals of 2014 Asian Federation Confederation Challenge Cup at the Male National Stadium in Maldives.

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The Azkals under head coach American Tomas Dooley made it to the semifinals after topping Group B with seven points based on two wins and a draw. They posted a draw in their first game against Afghanistan (0-0) then defeated Laos (2-0) and Turkmenistan (2-0).

Dooley is expected to rely again on brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Simone Rota, Stephan Schrock, goalkeeper Roland Mueller, Daisuke Sato, Rob Gier, Patrick Reitchelt, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, among others.

Although the Azkals are coming off two consecutive wins, Dooley warns his team not to be complacent in the semifinals game.

He also expects the host team to play their very best because this is the only second time that Maldives made it to Challenge Cup.

The Maldives squad (153rd in FIFA rankings), that finished second in Group A via one win, one draw and a loss for four points, said that they are 100 percent ready against the Azkals.

“I never looked at who would be a better opponent to play against in the semifinals. For us it is the same if it was Afghanistan or Philippines,” Maldives head coach Drago Mamic said in a statement posted on the AFC website on Monday.

“I don’t care much about the other teams because in the semifinals and finals, there are only small differences between the teams so you don’t know how you can adapt from one team to another. It is best to just look at your own team and try to adjust your own team as best as possible.”

“They reacted very well today. I think they have recuperated to 75 percent and now for these two games they will be 100 percent ready,” he added.

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