The Philippines men’s football fighting for survival

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

MANILA • After stealing a point from their 1-1 draw with Cambodia on Monday, and then losing to Myanmar 1-2 on Wednesday, the Philippines men’s football team now find themselves fighting for survival in Group A, which could make life difficult for Malaysia when they take on the host country today.

“The Junior Azkals”, for one, already have home support behind them, and with the race for the semifinal berths getting tighter, the match against Harimau Malaya has taken extra importance for the home side.

Malaysia will take the field as favourites after their 1-1 draw opener against Myanmar on Dec 2, but will still have to be wary of the threat posed by the Philippines to secure the top two spots, especially after Cambodia’s 5-0 thrashing of Timor-Leste on Wednesday.

Aware of the tricky situation ahead, Malaysian coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee wants his charges to take total control of the match.

“They (Philippines) are not going to be easy opponents, I believe Myanmar are aware of that now as they only got their winner in the 79th minute. We have to tread carefully, as they have drawn one and and lost the other and now they are in a position where they cannot afford to drop any more points.

“We can expect a tough battle, that is for sure. We have to stick to our game, but at the same time not be overzealous in our approach and control the game to ensure we do not concede. If we can do this, then we have a great chance of getting those three points,” he told reporters at the Rizal Memorial Stadium yesterday.

He also reminded his players of the two overage players in the host country’s squad who could pose a threat, especially their skipper Stephan Schrock.

Ong also said except for one or two players, there would be no major changes in the starting line-up for the 8pm match.

After the Philippines, next up for Malaysia would be Timor Leste on Dec 2, and then Cambodia two days later to wrap up their group matches.