Dooley: Azkals need to ‘play good, do something special’ vs Yemen
Sense of urgency is at an all-time high as the Philippine Azkals makes one final push in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
Going up against Yemen at home on Thursday, coach Thomas Dooley stressed the the importance of this match as the Philippines currently sits third place at Group H with seven points.
“Obviously, this is a game that we have to win,” he said in the pre-match press conference at Manila Hotel on Wednesday. “It’s going to be an exciting game tomorrow because games we have to win, play good, and do something special.”
The proverbial panic button has been pressed for the Azkals after dropping five points in their overseas trip against North Korea (0-0) and Bahrain (2-0).
With three matches left in the second round schedule, the Philippines must sweep all games if it wants to crack the top two spots.
But given the monumental task at hand, Dooley’s focus is still on the Yemen game for the mean time.
“Yemen is absolutely a must win game. That should not hinder us from playing our game, and we should not make it too difficult for us. It should push every single one to know how important this game is,” he said.
“There are three reasons: One, if we lose the game, we’re out. If we win the game, we’re still alive. We have a chance to advance to the next round and that’s what we want to do; Second, we have to win the game because we have a team that is behind us in the rankings. We don’t want to lose against teams behind us and Yemen is one of those teams that we have to beat; and the last one is the feeling that you have when you win this game, and you know that you are alive and you have three months to prepare for the Uzbekistan game is something which is really good for everybody, for the fans, the PFF, the players, our coaching staff, to prepare for the next game.”
After the Yemen game, the Azkals will get a four-month break before completing their assignments against Group H leaders. They will play Uzbekistan in Tashkent then North Korea in Manila, both to be played in March.
But Dooley knows that in order to at least have a chance to achieve the improbable feat, the players must be up to the task starting Thursday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“If we don’t show 100-percent from every single player, it will be difficult. But I believe in the team and I trust the team, everybody will show up tomorrow. I think we’ll have a good chance to win.”
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