Palami hopes near meltdown vs Fiji spurs Azkals
The players may have stayed optimistic after a near disaster, but Philippine Azkals team manager Dan Palami had different sentiment after the team’s 3-2 victory over Fiji in their international friendly Thursday .
Visibly irked with the dismal showing in the final third of the match, the longtime national team patron agreed that the Azkals surrendering two late goals is a legitimate cause of concern heading into the all-important match against Tajikistan on Tuesday in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“Certainly. For that scoreline, for that result in the last half, it is a cause of concern,” he said.
Palami has every reason to be disappointed, considering the difference between the two nation’s place in the world rankings. The Philippines sits at 122nd, while Fiji is ranked 168th.
He even went to as far as likening the match to the Azkals’ 1-8 defeat to China in a friendly last June.
“We had almost the same kind of result coming to Tajikistan, an 8-1 drubbing by China which is equivalent to almost like this result,” said Palami.
The humiliating defeat, however, spurred the Philippines to perform better and eke out the 4-3 victory over Tajikistan in Dushanbe, something that he hopes that the squad could replicate come Tuesday.
“For me, it’s good that we saw our mistakes in this game. We have to assess ourselves and at least, you have four more training days to prepare for the more important game. Hopefully in that four days, the players who weren’t able to play like (Daisuke) Sato and (Javier) Patiño will get fitter, and those who did well will be given a chance to really excel on Tuesday’s match,” he said.
Palami also doesn’t want the Azkals to be overwhelmed with pressure as they seek a spot in the continental showpiece, which would be a first for the country since the inception of the tournament.
“I don’t even want the players to look at the historical significance of the game. It’s just one game,” he said. “Just get that win and the historical impact will the consequence of that game. Let’s not look at that, let’s look at the game on Tuesday and let’s get the result for that game.”
However, Palami couldn’t shake off the sting of the near-scare and he hopes that it could serve as a reality check for the team ahead of the much-awaited match.
“We could have played better,” he said.
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