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    Philippine Azkals remain defiant after Singapore setback

    Dec 10, 2021
    The Azkals are looking to win their next three games in the group stage of the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup.
    The Azkals are looking to win their next three games in the group stage of the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup.
    PHOTO: PFF

    FOLLOWING the loss to Singapore on Wednesday, the Philippine Azkals’ goal is clear: win the next three matches for a chance at a semifinal berth in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.

    Designated head coach Stewart Hall is aware of the uphill climb to the next phase, but insisted there is a lot to be optimistic about after the game against Singapore where the Azkals gave up two goals in what Hall described as "three silly minutes.”

    “The objectives now are quite clear. We need to win the three games. You may get lucky and get two wins and one draw and that may be enough depending on the results. But you can’t rely on that,” said Hall during the pre-match press conference on Friday.

    “You have to win all three remaining games and we’ve looked at being positive. We’ve looked at what we did okay last game. It wasn’t a great performance but it wasn’t a bad one either considering the squad that we’ve got and the lack of preparation. I though the players worked hard,” said Hall.

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    Azkals face Timor Leste

    That quest begins on Saturday when the Azkals face Timor Leste at 5:30 p.m. at the Singapore National Stadium, with Hall encouraging the team not to underestimate their opponents.

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    The Azkals also have Thailand and Myanmar on the schedule.

    Timor Leste lost its first two fixtures, the last a 0-2 defeat to Myanmar on Wednesday.

    “The focus is everything has to improve a little bit. We go try and put 10 percent to everything and the way we handle the ball, the way we defended. We have to improve a little bit and we’ll get the results that we want,” said Hall.

    Hall bared the possibility of adding an extra striker for the match on Saturday to boost their chances of scoring goals.

    Hall also got a boost, coaching-wise, with Scott Cooper, the head coach of the Azkals during the build-up, arriving in Singapore on Friday. The Azkals coach admitted Cooper’s absence against Singapore left the team at a disadvantage.

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    “Obviously, the two of us will move things forward together. It’s Scott’s team and I was brought here to help Scott and on other projects and that’s what we will do moving forward,” said Hall.

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      Jesper Nyholm has already joined the team for the Suzuki Cup but Hall is non-committal on whether the Fil-Swedish defender who plays for Djurgardens IF will see action on Saturday.

      “It’s about his match legs. With the eight-hour time difference, the jetlag, and the journey, you’re a little bit like Bambi. You might fall over, It’s a 50-50 to be honest,” said Hall.

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      The Azkals are looking to win their next three games in the group stage of the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup.
      PHOTO: PFF
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