BANGKOK – The Azkals lacked bite in the opener, but hope to live up to their moniker from hereon.
After losing to Thailand in the opener of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Saturday night, the Philippine national football team is facing the same situation of having to work its way up for a chance at the title.
“We’ve been here before,” Azkals manager Dan Palami said on Sunday, recalling the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup earlier in the year where they lost their first game against North Korea, 2-0, before finishing the tournament in third place. “I hope that this too will serve as another example of how resilient we are.
“It’s going to be a tougher challenge and tougher way for us to get to the semis but I think we can do it,” the 42-year-old entrepreneur from Tacloban added. “I have faith in the team. I have faith in our players, and I have faith in the support of our Filipino fans.”
Phil Younghusband, who suffered two cuts on his left eye and didn’t play in the second half against Thailand, also believes the tournament is far from over.
The 25-year-old Filipino-British striker even cited Malaysia’s similar predicament in the last Suzuki Cup, where the Malayan Tigers were stunned by Indonesia, 5-1 in their first assignment before eventually capturing the coveted crown.
“Malaysia, they lost heavily in the first game in the last Suzuki Cup and they came back and won the competition,” said Younghusband, the country’s top scorer with 27 international goals. “We knew Thailand was gonna be a tough game, but we still have two more games. Hopefully we can get a good result.”
Palami added: “And we’ve shown we can rise above it. So I see this as no different as it was before. Of course, we can’t rely on history to give us the result we want.
“What we need now to do is to focus on the next game and get the three points, and learn from the mistakes we made before.”