Philippine Azkals defender Daisuke Sato remains optimistic despite his team’s 1-5 loss to formidable Uzbekistan in the second round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan on Tuesday.
The Filipino-Japanese booter admonished his team to keep their focus on upcoming games instead of thinking about their lopsided defeat to the superiorly ranked Uzbeks in their home turf.
“We lose 5-1 but nothing negative. We have a few more games to go and we have a game next month against North Korea. We need to change our state of mind and we need to keep on going,” Sato said. The Filipino-Japanese was noted for his steady performance fortifying the Azkals’ defense during the game.
Sato, despite playing against much taller foes, led the five-man defensive back line of the Azkals in their last game.
Meanwhile, Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley explained that the game should be a learning experience for the team as they rarely get a chance of playing against a higher ranked squad.
“We need analyze the game very well, try to learn from it and move on. We need to play more games like this and friendly games where we can find out what we did wrong and what the other teams are doing better to move forward,” he said.
He added that the he expected the outcome to be a different but stressed that he still believes in the potential of the revamped Azkals roster.
“Obviously, I thought it would go a little bit different. I think it would be great experience for the players. But from the first kick, we started in the wrong direction. Everything that we actually tried to do was gone. So it made it [the game]very difficult, “ Dooley said.
The Azkals, after the loss to Uzbekistan, dropped down to the third spot of Group H with two wins and a loss.
The team will next play against the North Koreans in their home turf in Pyongyang on October 8.