SHORTLY after the conclusion of the Azkals’ win over Guam on Friday night in the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, skipper Stephan Schrock was seen by the television cameras looking upset at the team for their overall performance in the match.
Azkals coach Scott Cooper shared the same sentiment about the victory, but likes the silver lining about that attitude.
“The players know what they were going to get from me, that’s why they know me well enough to know that my standards are high and I expect the same of them,” said Cooper. “Winning 3-0 is a good result but the performance has many things that are alarming and concerning.”
“It says a lot for a team,” said Cooper about Schrock’s reaction. “We won 3-0…, we secured third place in the group, we’ve equaled the best points tally the Azkals team already had. The players, I just told them show me by your actions that we are not satisfied with that and we are going to come back and react in the next game.”
That next game will come on Tuesday night when the Philippines looks to finish the second round of the qualifiers strong against Maldives at the Sharjah Stadium in the United Arab Emirates. Kickoff has been moved an hour later to 7 p.m. (11 p.m. Manila time)
The Azkals are now out of contention for the World Cup, but will be advancing to the third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers where they hope to make it again in the actual competition for the second time in a row.
Cooper expects his players to go all out on the pitch and finish the second round qualifiers on a bright note.
“That’s what is going to take for the players to stay on this ride because we are trying to move our national team up, up, and up. I like that mentality. It keeps the players sharp and on their toes. They know my expectations,” said Cooper.
Despite the recent win, Cooper admitted the Azkals played a much better game in their 2-0 loss to China compared to the performance in Guam.
“Our standards going forward or the Philippines, we’ve set much higher than that. Our ambitions is to play much better football than that. We can do much better than that. I think the first game against China, we showed organization and discipline. [Against Guam] we showed moments where we can attack, but we didn’t have enough continuity in our game where we possessed the ball and that’s why we change the formation at halftime. It’s clearly not working,” said Cooper.
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