Azkals to gauge strength in friendly vs Maldives
The Philippines warms up for a critical World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) assignment as it takes on a familiar rival in the Maldives in a friendly tonight at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley hopes to use the 8 p.m. game as a gauge on his team’s readiness for the important battle with Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, the Azkals won’t be pulling their punches against a team they defeated, 3-2, in extra time in the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup last year in Male.
“There’s no friendly game for us, we just want to win every game and that’s our mentality,” said Dooley.
The Azkals are off to a bright start with two impressive wins in Group H of qualifying unlike the Maldives, which has lost its two games to Qatar and Hong Kong.
But the Azkals will be facing their toughest test yet in the Uzbeks.
“It’s important for us to get a good result and get some confidence heading into Uzbekistan,” said skipper Phil Younghusband. “Winning should be a habit for us.”
Foreign-based standouts Stephan Schrock, Iain Ramsay, Jerry Lucena, Neil Etheridge and Roland Müller have already linked up with the team with Javier Patino, Stephan Palla set to arrive last night Luke Woodland will plane in on Saturday.
The Maldivians, who are also using the match to prepare for their WCQ clash against China on Tuesday, will miss the influential Ali Ashfaq who is out due to personal reasons.
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