The Philippine Azkals will give it their best shot when they meet the mighty South Korean Taeguk Warriors in their 3 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Manila time) showdown at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
Scoring just win or at least pulling off a draw will put the underdog Azkals within reach of their goal when action in Group C of the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup gets going.
“We can make it difficult for South Korea. Well, they’re the group favorites,” said team skipper Phil Younghusband.
Younghusband believes that while the Koreans are among the favorites, many things can still happen at game time.
“You’ve seen surprises in football before, and as long we work hard and give our all, we can typify the Filipino fighting spirit,” added Younghusband.
It will be a challenging campaign for the Philippines since the Azkals are ranked at 116 in the world, and 21st in Asia.
And they will be against the fourth-ranked squad, which last made it to the finals in 2015.
Younghusband added that the Azkals will achieve their goals in the tournament will at least one win and a draw.
Meanwhile, coach Sven-Goran Eriksson believes that the odds may be against them, with the Korea Republic and China in their bracket, but they will still make an effort to go to the next stage.
“I don’t think we are the favorites to win the group. But we’re going to try to go further,” said Eriksson.
Eriksson won’t be just counting on Younghusband and playmaker Stephan Schrock to make things happen for the Azkals.
Younghusband, who has 52 goals in 105 caps for the Azkals, and playmaker Stephan Schrock, who has top-level European experience, are among the key players of the team.
Another player, Manny Ott, a center midfielder, is expected to shine on his first international appearance in 2010.
Ott has gone on to establish himself as an important player with his smooth distribution of the ball, his off-the-ball movements, and his tenacious tackles.
This is what 26-year-old Ott showed when Ceres-Negros took the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone championship.
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