No guaranteed Round of 16 slot even if Azkals beat Kyrgyzstan
DUBAI—There is no guarantee that a victory in its last group match will be enough for the Philippines to reach the next round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup.
But a strong finish can cap what has been a memorable debut so far for the Azkals here.
Currently in last place in Group C, the Azkals face Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday night at Rashid Stadium with both teams needing victories to stand a chance of progressing to the round of 16.
Making it to the next round as one of the top two teams in the group is already out of the equation for the Azkals, but qualifying as one of the four best third-placed squads is a scenario that is still alive.
The Azkals narrowly lost to South Korea, 0-1, in their opening match on Jan. 7, before falling to China, 0-3, at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match against China drew 16,000 fans, so far the most attended game in the tournament that did not involve host United Arab Emirates.
“The Kyrgyzstan match will be like a final for us,” said captain Stephan Schrock. “We have to finish with a really good performance, taking three points—and really hope for the best.”
The Philippines is one of eight winless countries in the tournament after all 24 teams have played their two matches. A draw will not be enough for both Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines to reach the next round.
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