THE Philippine Azkals under American head coach Thomas Dooley will face the Laos squad in the opening day of the 2014 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Saturday at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Game time is set at 4 p.m.
“Laos is our first game and we’re hoping we start our campaign with a win,” Dooley, who arrived in Hanoi with the team on Wednesday, told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
“We still have two days left before our match and we’re expecting a stiff competition, so we have to prepare hard especially in our first game against Laos.”
Laos is bracing for a tough battle against the Azkals. The Laos national team under David Booth of England had failed to enter the semifinals in the last two editions of the meet.
Dooley is confident that the Azkals would pull off an easy win against Laos.
“This team is motivated to beat just like any other teams, so we have to keep our winning character,” said Dooley, who is expected to bank on Daisuke Sato, brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Chris Greatwich, Manny Ott, Robert Gier and skipper Anton Del Rosario, among others.
“We cannot underestimate any team there,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami. “This is for our country.”
Host Vietnam faces Indonesia also on Saturday in the second game at 7:00 pm.
Philippines, Laos, host Vietnam and Indonesia are bracketed in Group A, while co-host and defending champion Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar are all in bracket B.