Azkals seek ideal result vs Thailand
The Philippine Azkals have tagged themselves as heavy underdogs as they gun for a much-needed result on Monday against host and defending champion Thailand in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup in Pathum Thani.
Coach Josep Ferre was quick to temper expectations ahead of the 8:30 p.m. (Manila time) match that will be held in the outskirts of Bangkok, three days after producing his first win in charge with a 5-1 thumping of Brunei before a home crowd at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“Thailand, as you can see in its last game (beating Brunei 5-0) and history, has a very good squad and some excellent players with experience in Spain and Japan, and in any moment they can decide the game,” Ferre said.
The match could determine if the Azkals can make a strong case to compete for one of the two semifinal berths in Group A. The Philippines is deadlocked with Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia with identical three points.
Ferre hopes that his side can at least replicate the performance it had in a losing cause against Vietnam in a friendly held before the AFF tourney. The Azkals were minutes away from forcing a scoreless draw when the Golden Stars scored before the final whistle.
“Of course, it’s gonna be tough against them, for sure. It was tough against Vietnam and we made it a pleasant game. So we have to try and exploit their weak points and protect ourselves because they are good at playing the ball,” he added.
Players like Kenshiro Daniels, the surprise top goalscorer for the Azkals and the tournament through two matchdays, and Sandro Reyes are among those seen to step up against a crack Thailand side led by legendary Teerasil Dangda.