FORMER Manchester United player Dennis Joseph Irwin believes the Philippine Azkals will rule the 2014 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup on November in Vietnam.
Irwin said that the Azkals need only to train hard and believe in themselves because most Filipino players are aggressive and skillful.
“I believe they [Azkals] have the edge to win the Suzuki Cup crown. I know Thomas Dooley [Azkals head coach], he is a good player and coach,” the 48-year-old Irwin told The Manila Times in an interview during a press conference organized by Maybank in Taguig City. “You have a fantastic chance of winning the Suzuki Cup.”
Irwin, also a former player of the Irish 19-under football team praised the Filipinos’ vast improvement in football adding that the Philippine Football Federation should focus on its grassroots program to further promote the sport.
“Although basketball remains to be a popular sport here in Philippines, I believe your football players have the potential to win because football is team sport that requires good teamwork and Filipino players have a good teamwork every game. They just have to train harder. You just have to enjoy football. I know what Thailand and Vietnam could do but I’m pretty sure Philippines will fight with confidence. The future of Philippine football relies on your grassroots too,” he said.
Irwin also said that Filipinos doesn’t need an individual superstar to win an international football crown.
“Just what I’ve said, football is a team sport and Filipinos are capable of playing the game. Some countries have Leonel Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), but football remains to be a team sport.”