The Philippines will be bracing for a hostile crowd as the National Under-23 squad tackles host Singapore to usher in the country’s campaign in 28th Southeast Asian Games at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday in Singapore.
“The boys are physically and psychologically ready for tomorrow’s game,” said head coach Marlon Maro, whose charges will not only be up against the Singaporeans but also their hometown fans, who are expected to fill virtually every nook and cranny of the 6,800-capacity venue.
“Mas marami nga sila but I believe mas malakas at mas maingay ang mga Pinoy,” added the coach, who was hoping that the huge Filipino expatriate community would come out and root for the Nationals at 8:30 p.m., opening Group A action in the SEAG football tournament.
The Filipino booters have been here since Tuesday, a day after their last tuneup game where they narrowly lost to top United Football League club Green Archers FC, 2-3, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Maro said that based on what he has seen of the hosts so far “I believe we can match the Singaporeans evenly. We might even be faster than them.”
For extra motivation, Maro shared his own experience with the national team back in the 1991 Manila SEA Games when the Filipinos reached the semifinals of the football competitions for the first time, dropping a 0-2 decision to the Singaporeans, who bagged the bronze medal.
Maro added that his players had something to prove after some of the eliigibles members of the Philippine Azkals like Kenshiro Daniels, OJ Porteria and Amani Aguinaldo begged off to focus on the PH senior squad’s buildup to its World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain on June 11.