Philippine Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley said on Monday that winning the home game against Thailand in the two-leg semifinals of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Saturday is crucial for the Azkals.
“I’m always worried every game but you know I believe the players can play very well against the Thais. There’s no any pressure,” Dooley told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “We just have to stay competitively aggressive and smart against them.”
Dooley added that he’s confident the Azkals could upset powerhouse Thailand in the semifinals because of the inspiration from the hometown crowd. “I’m expecting a huge support from the home crowd Saturday. Their prayers and support are very important,” he added. The Thais carry an impressive 3-0 win-loss card in the group stage bracket B.
The Azkals finished second in the group stage with six points on two wins and one loss against host Vietnam (1-3). They also defeated Laos (4-1) and Indonesia (4-0).
Dooley is expected to bank on the prowess of Phil and James Younghusband, Manny Ott, Simone Rota, Daisuke Sato, Patrick Reichelt, Rob Gier, Chris Greatwich and Misagh Bahadoran, among others.
The Suzuki Cup will go to Thailand next week for the second and last leg of the semifinals.