The Philippine Azkals are all set to square off against Yemen for the second time in the joint 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium today.
The Azkals, housed in Group H with North Korea, Bahrain, Uzbekistan and Yemen, currently hold the third spot.
The Azkals beat Yemen in their first meeting in June 16 through the goals of Misagh Bahadoran and Iain Ramsay.
Consequently, they now face a tough task of finishing strong in their last three games in the second round of the Asian leg of the qualifiers to move on to the next round.
Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley said that their training has not been the most ideal but reiterated their readiness to battle Yemen.
“When you have six players only being able to attend practice only a few days before the match, it’s not the best preparation that you can have. We just talk to them and just rely on the knowledge of the players.”
He added that while defense will be their main concern, his wards are also keen to play aggressively.
“I hope we play the way we want to play. We want to keep possession and be dangerous, that’s is how we want to play,” Dooley said.
Filipino football sensation Stephan Schrock, who plays for SpVgg Greuther Furth in 2 Bundelisga, admitted that they did not have ample training time to prepare for the match but said that he is confident about their chances.
“Its always hard for the team to buy time around because we are always traveling but when it comes to game day, everybody is sharp and 100 percent focused on the work that’s why I’m very confident that we can keep the three points here,” said the Filipino-German football star.
The Azkals will be missing the services of team captain Phil Younghusband because of the latter’s accumulated yellow cards. Defender Luke Woodland will also skip the game because of prior commitments with his new English club.
However, Javier Patino, Rob Gier, Simone Rota and Juani Guirado are all geared up for battle after recovering from injuries.