The Philippine Azkals will clash with Kyrgyzstan in their final friendly game before the Suzuki Cup at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium at 8 p.m. today.
After two consecutive losses in exhibition matches that the country hosted, the Azkals are keen to show their readiness for the group stage of the Southeast Asian Championship later this month.
The Azkals lost to Bahrain, 1-3, and North Korea, 1-3, in back-to-back games in Manila last October.
“This will be our last game before the Suzuki Cup and we want to go into the tournament with confidence. We know Kyrgyzstan will be a test and will be a strong team to put us against. We will know where we are after this game,” skipper Phil Younghusband said during the pre-match news conference on Tuesday.
The Azkals won 2-1 against Kyrgyztan in the latter’s home stadium in Bishkek on September 6.
Kevin Ingresso scored the initial goal for the Philippines before the halftime break while Misagh Bahadoran sealed the win with a strike of his own early in the second half.
Meanwhile, Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley said that only minor changes in tactics would be implemented in today’s match against their higher-ranked opponent.
“I mean, we did everything right and we won our previous game against them so I won’t change something. Our focus is on the Suzuki Cup and we don’t want to make the same mistakes that we did last time against Bahrain and North Korea,” he said.
Dooley said that the Azkals are determined to win.
“It was a good test on our understanding of where the team is and how far we can go. I said it before, Kyrgyzstan is a bigger challenge for us and sometimes, if you win a game, it does not matter how you win it as long as you do,” he concluded.
The Azkals will begin their campaign in the preliminary round of the biennial Asean Football Federation championship on November 19.
They are scheduled to host the teams of Singapore, Indonesia and reigning champions Thailand in Group A at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.