The Philippine Azkals are a team on the rise and 46 spots above the Guam football team in the world rankings, but they don't scare the territory's English coach Gary White.
“We’re not afraid of them,” said White on the eve of their friendly on Tuesday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. “Maybe on paper, it may be a little lopsided. But the game isn’t played on paper.”
While the Azkals are using this match as part of their preparation for the Suzuki Cup later this year, the Guamanians are deep in their buildup for the East Asian Championships in July.
One advantage for the Guamanians is youth, with an average age of 20. Team captain Jason Cunliffe is the oldest at 28.
“We have a very young and enthusiastic group,” said White.
The Azkals are coming off two winnable matches that ended up in draws—a scoreless standoff with Malaysia and 2-2 against Indonesia—and White knows the Azkals are starving for a win.
“They will come at us with guns flying because two draws isn’t good for anybody.”
But White was quick to add: “We’ve done our homework and scout analysis.”
They know Phil and James Younghusband will again be the focal point of the Azkals offense, with team captain Chieffy Caligdong and midfielder Manny Ott suspended after receiving red cards in the match against Indonesia.
After the Azkals match, the Guamanians will continue their Philippine tour with a match against United Football League squads Global FC on Thursday and Stallion FC on Saturday.