THE Philippine men’s football team has found an added motivation as it squares off against Myanmar for the Philippine Football Federation Peace Cup crown on Saturday night at The Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Coming off a rousing 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei last Wednesday, the Azkals target a third straight crown as they take the field at 7 p.m. against a Burmese side handled by coach Radojko “Raddy” Avramovic.
The veteran Serbian mentor was the same man who steered a Singapore squad that denied the Filipino booters a spot in the finals of the 2012 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup with a 1-0 aggregate win in the semifinals to become the eventual champion.
Avramovic has since transferred to Myanmar, but Azkals skipper Rob Gier is motivated to settle the score.
"I'd be lying if I said no," the stout center-back said. "It was devastating to lose the semifinals to them (Singapore) a few years ago and he's (Avramovic) the mastermind behind that."
"Obviously we're not playing against coach Raddy, but we're playing against Myanmar and their quality players,” Gier was quick to add. “But it will be nice to get one over him for sure."
Myanmar showed its worth with its own blowout victory, a 4-1 stunner over 88th-ranked, but depleted Palestine side last Tuesday.
And expect the Burmese to provide the Azkals a worthy challenge, using the pocket tournament as preparations for the Suzuki Cup as they still need to go through the qualifiers for one of the two remaining slots.
The Filipino booters have been automatically seeded in the group stage, where they are bracketed with host Vietnam, Indonesia, and the qualifiers runner-up.