Saintfiet harps: PH football team ready to compete against Iraq
FOOTBALL

Saintfiet harps: PH football team ready to compete against Iraq

/ 05:10 AM March 21, 2024

Tom Saintfiet talks strategy with the national team.

Tom Saintfiet talks strategy with the national team. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Coach Tom Saintfiet offered plenty of positives to the way the Philippine men’s football team conducted its preparation for the first of two matches with Iraq in this month’s World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers window.

“I was satisfied with the progression we made. The motivation and cooperation is on a high and we are ready to compete against Iraq,” said Sainfiet as the team formerly known as the Azkals looks to steal points against the Iraqi side on its home turf.

Saintfiet’s coaching debut is set on Thursday local time in Basra (early Friday Manila time) where the Philippine side look to display what the new man in charge has been harping on.

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The team spent the past week in Dubai where the Belgian coach held camp for the 28 players composed of veterans, youngsters and first-timers.

“They are all good players,” said Saintfiet. “I have a team of quality players with the right mentality with a lot of discipline and it will be tough for me as the coach to make the choice.”

Among those expected to play for the Philippines for the first time are brothers Matthew and Michael Baldisimo, who were tapped by Saintfiet for this window.

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But Saintfiet will be missing a key piece in Spain-based Santi Rublico, who’ll be serving a one-match ban for accumulating two yellow cards during the November window against Vietnam and Indonesia.

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Rublico will be available for the return match with the Iraqis on Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Philippines is in third place in Group F with one point, equal with Indonesia, but five below Iraq and two behind second-running Vietnam.

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Iraq won its first two matches against Indonesia at home and Vietnam away during the November window.

TAGS: Football, Iraq, World Cup

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