The Philippine men’s football team continues its preparation for the 2012 Suzuki Cup when it hosts Indonesia in a friendly on Tuesday (Manila time) at the Rizal Stadium.
Ranked 148th in the world, the Azkals get a chance to see where they stand when they take on the Indonesians, who are ranked three spots below them.
“This game is important for us to see how far the team has progressed,” Azkals coach Michael Weiss said in a pre-match press conference at Discovery Suites on Monday.
The Azkals are coming off a scoreless draw last week in another friendly against Malaysia at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Indonesia and Malaysia are among the Southeast Asian teams the Azkals will be facing in the Suzuki Cup, also known as the Asean Football Championships, the premier football tournament in the region.
“It’s going to be a really interesting game. We’ll be able to finally gauge where we’re at and where we need to be,” Azkals’ defender Rob Gier said.
It will be be the first time the two countries will meet since the 2010 edition of the Suzuki Cup, the same tournament that propelled the Azkals to prominence.
The Indonesians won their semifinal matchup against the Filipino booters that time on a 2-0 aggregate score. And Tuesday’s tussle could be a chance for the Azkals to exact revenge.
But Gier doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t really see it as a grudge match,” he said. “A lot of things have happened since that semifinal. It’s water under the bridge.”
Compared to that 2010 squad, the Azkals have way more depth now.
The Azkals will be having an almost intact lineup against Indonesia with goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, striker Phil Younghusband, midfielder James Younghusband, and defenders Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara returning to action.
The Indonesians, on the other hand, will be fielding basically a new team compared to two years ago.
“It’s going to be a whole different game, but of course we want to win again,” Indonesian striker Irfan Bachdim said.
Bachdim and Markus Maulana are the only two remaining players from the 2010 team that beat the Azkals.