Azkals remain upbeat despite twin setbacks
Two defeats in the finals in the past four months haven’t put a dent in the confidence of the Philippine Azkals as they continue their buildup for another major tournament late this year.
The Azkals fell at the last hurdle in the AFC Challenge Cup, where their lone loss came against Palestine, 0-1, in the title match that also dangled a spot in the Asian Cup next year.
Still licking the wounds of that defeat in the Maldives, the Azkals suffered another heartbreaker, this time to Burma (Myanmar), 2-3, in extra time in the Philippine Peace Cup finals at Rizal Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
But while he’s disappointed with the losses, Azkals coach Thomas Dooley feels his team is on the right track in their buildup for the AFF Suzuki Cup in December.
“We’re moving forward and I’m still happy with how we’ve developed in the past seven months,” said Dooley, who took the helm in February. “The only thing we want to find out is how we can play our best game in a final.”
Burma coach Raddy Avramovic noted the Azkals’ improvement from the team he faced two years ago in the Suzuki Cup semifinals, when he was still coaching Singapore.
“I think they have more quality now,” said the Serbian coach who steered Singapore to four Asean titles. “The problem when facing the Philippines is that they don’t have just 11 players, but 20 players who can make an impact.”
“Teams come to a final and treat it just like any other game, but it is not,” said Azkals skipper Rob Gier. “We’ve lost those games, but as long as every player gets a piece of experience from those games, we will take it.”
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