Philippine Azkals team manager Dan Palami is confident that his wards would do the improbable when they battle the Palestine squad, 165th in Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings, in the championship round of Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup at the National Stadium in Male, Maldives.
The Azkals are aiming to bag a berth in the Asian Cup next year by winning tonight’s battle with the Palestinians.
Game time starts at 9:00 p.m. (Maldives time).
“I expect Palestine to come all out in this championship game since they have good players,” Palami told The Manila Times via online interview on Thursday. “I’m not worried. I think though that if we play better as a team and if we keep our discipline and work as a team, we can win this game.”
“It’s a match with the future of Filipino football on the line.”
Philippine head coach Thomas Dooley, who surpassed the Challenge Cup achievement of former Azkals mentor German Hans Michael Weiss in Nepal two years ago, said he is encouraging all his players to play with urgency and dream big.
“We want to play at the next level, that is not a secret. We came over here to win the Challenge Cup,” Dooley, who replaced Weiss in February, said in a statement posted on AFC website on Thursday. “When you play and believe in it you will be successful so that’s why we are going step-by-step.”
“We want to play at the next level which is the Asian Cup so we want to play against those big guys, not to win something, but to play with them and that is our biggest goal,” he added. “Now the biggest thing we can do is write a new history in the next game so we want to prepare the team to write history.”
The Azkals, 140th in FIFA rankings, are expected to rely anew on the prowess of Chris Greatwich, brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Jerry Lucena, Simone Rota, Patrick Reitchelt, Daisuke Sato, goalkeeper Roland Mueller, among others.