The Philippine Under-16 football team is optimistic but wants to remain realistic of its chances in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship 2018 qualifying stage.
Setting their qualification campaign into motion, the junior Filipino booters tackle South Korea on Monday at 4:30 p.m. (Manila time) at the Thuwunna Youth Training Centre Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
Head coach Roxy Dorlas, who is on his first stint as mentor of a national team, is hopeful of an all-out effort from his young Azkals.
“As a coach and as a player before, we always want to have results and good performance. With the mentality and the attitude of the players that we have, their desire of winning is very high,” Dorlas, who was a former Philippine Azkal, told The Manila Times.
Team skipper Juan Miguel Basmayor shares the same confidence heading into the qualifying phase of the biennial youth football tournament.
“Based on the national teams that I joined in the past few years, I think this is the best team that I had. I believe that this team would go further than the other teams that I’ve joined,” said Basmayor, a junior booter from De La Salle Zobel.
However, the Philippines is set to battle it out with powerhouse teams South Korea, China and Myanmar in Group H for the lone sure spot to the main stage.
“It’s a very tough group… We can expect high-quality football. That’s why we’re trying to be realistic. We target to have a good performance,” said Dorlas.
Having to face strong oppositions, the 30-year old Dutch-Filipino coach has a constant reminder for his junior booters.
“I keep reminding them that they are a group of talented football players. We just stay positive and keep encouraging each other that we have a chance,” said Dorlas.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA