FACING the highest-ranked country that they’ve had in a long while, the Philippine Azkals are surely coming into their June 7 friendly against China with something to prove.
But while he knows the magnitude of this match, Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband isn’t taking his eyes off from what truly matters - the game against Tajikistan on June 13.
“China’s a strong team. They’re always in the Asian Cup and they’re a lot higher ranked than us. It’s gonna be a tough test but the important game is gonna be against Tajikistan,” said Younghusband who leads the country in both appearances (87) and goals (45).
“If we get a win there, that keeps us on the top of the group and in a good position. Obvioulsy the game against China will get us prepared for that,” he added.
China is expected to field a strong team in the friendly against the Azkals, which forms part of its build-up for the 2018 World Cup Qualification match against Syria also on June 13.
Zhang Yuning should be one of the most notable names to look out for as the 20-year old striker for Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie is set to be called up for the friendly.
Joining Yuning are Chinese Superleague stars Zheng Zi, Gao Lin and Wu Lei.
“Any way you can prove that you can play against better teams and better players, that should be a good experience,” Younghusband said.
“We’ll go in there and try to win the game and it’s a friendly, a chance for us to try some new things.”
With the Philippines Football League up and running, Younghusband believes that they are now in a better shape, having games on a weekly basis.
He also credited the league for adjusting to the international break as they now won’t have to experience the problems that they ran into a few years back where club games and national team games can sometimes interlap.
“It’s good that the scheduling made sure.. unlike the last time where clubs had to lose players. It’s a good time, four games in and everyone has had a taste of PFL and what it’s like,” Younghusband said.