THE Philippine men’s football team finalizes its local preparations for the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup as it takes on Cambodia in a friendly on Friday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
In a sendoff for Southeast Asia’s showpiece football event in Vietnam, the Azkals collide with the Angkor Warriors at 8 p.m. eight days before they open their campaign against Laos in Hanoi.
“It’s always important to have a home game before going to a big tournament. It gives us more confidence,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said on Thursday.
Coming off a disappointing 3-0 loss at the hands Asean power Thailand at the opponent’s turf last Sunday, the 129th-ranked Filipino booters badly need a win and hope to get that against a relatively weaker foe in the Cambodians, who are ranked 185th in the world.
The Azkals outclassed the Cambodians, 8-0, in their last meeting in March 2013, and have won three matches and drew one in their last four meetings against their Southeast Asian neighbors.
“We want to play against a team from which you could get some confidence, but nothing against Cambodia,” Dooley said. “We know they’re strong.”
Cambodia barely missed a spot in the Suzuki Cup group stage after finishing third in the qualifiers behind Myanmar and Laos last month.
“We have to play a team that gives us a good competition, but also gives us confidence to win the game,” Dooley said. “We don’t want to sound overconfident, but we want to have a good game before we leave.”
The Azkals look to take advantage of a young opponent as Cambodia’s Korean coach Lee Tae-Hoon confirmed he will a field a squad that has 15 players under 23 years old.
Dooley hinted he will field a starting lineup composed of players who will also likely start in the Suzuki Cup.