Azkals’ time to win AFC Challenge Cup
ADDU CITY, Maldives—Suspended for the Philippines’ first match in the AFC Challenge Cup against Afghanistan, Azkals skipper Rob Gier still made sure his presence was felt.
Tasked to deliver the pep talk on the last training session before the tournament started Monday night, Gier challenged his teammates.
“It’s our best chance and I honestly believe we can win this tournament,” he said in the huddle. “The coaching staff has done everything and it’s down to us (players) to make this happen.”
Gier made his debut for the Azkals in the Challenge Cup Qualifiers in the capital Male in 2009.
It wasn’t a pleasant experience as the Azkals failed to make it to the final tournament.
But having been with the team the last five years and seeing it progressed, Gier’s belief is firm.
“We all need to believe that we can win this,” he said. “Because there is going to be a point in this tournament whether it’s going to be in the first game or in the final where we will be down or up against it and you have to find it in you to believe that you can do it.”
The Azkals need two wins to move into the semifinals, making their match against Afghanistan last night crucial.
Gier returns for the Laos game on Thursday along with Phil Younghusband who was also suspended for a red card in the qualifiers last year.
Turkmenistan is the Azkals’ last opponent in Male on Saturday. Only the top two teams in the group will qualify.
Meanwhile, Myanmar and Palestine got their campaign off to a flying start with opening day wins in Group A.
The Burmese side mentored by former Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic stunned host Maldives, 3-1, despite going down to 10 men in the first half.
Palestine snatched a last-minute goal as it nipped Kyrgyzstan, 1-0.
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