BANGKOK—James Younghusband and Chris Greatwich couldn’t help but wax nostalgic coming back to the Thai capital for this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup.
The two were members of the 2007 national side that lost two lopsided games and bombed out early when the tournament was still known as the AFF Championship here.
Back then, the team came here with little fanfare, lost captain Aly Borromeo to a knee injury eight minutes into the first game and limped home to a last-place finish in the group.
Now playing with one of the best-assembled Filipino national sides in history, Younghusband and Greatwich together with Anto Gonzales and Chieffy Caligdong are aching to exorcise the ghost of 2007 in this year’s championship.
And along with having the strong squad comes the expectations to deliver victories.
“It’s an exciting time for the team,” said Greatwich, who scored two goals in the group stage two years ago to help the Azkals reach the semifinals for the first time. “The team is very deep. The expectations are high and it’s important that with the added pressure, we maintain our focus.”
“We always talk about memories and we’re just raring to get back playing here,” said Younghusband, who played with a hamstring problem four years ago.
The Azkals bowed to Thailand, 0-4, in their previous meeting four years ago at the National Stadium, but Greatwich insists that the game was closer than the scoreline suggested.
History, however, shows that the Thais have had their way with the Filipinos in this tournament, having won all four meetings.
The rivalry with the Thais notwithstanding, Caligdong wants nothing more than to make up for that disappointing showing in 2007.
“I feel we have some unfinished business here in Bangkok,” said Caligdong.