WITH the Philippine Azkals looking to make history, Phil Younghusband, one of the men behind the resurgence of football in the country, looks to hit a personal milestone as well.
Making his 97th appearance for the national team, it would only be fitting for Younghusband to score his 50th goal for the country as the Philippines looks to finally punch a ticket to the Asian Cup.
A draw against Tajikistan on Tuesday will push them to the 2019 continental meet in Abu Dhabi.
While Younghusband is certainly thinking about it, he cannot take his eyes off the big picture and that’s helping his the Philippines make the Asian Cup for the first time.
“I hope I score in the next game. But as long as we’re in the Asian Cup, for me that’s the big goal for the team and the Philippine Football. Whatever happens, as long as we’re in the Asian Cup, whether our goalkeeper scores the goal or whether I score the goal it doesn’t matter as long as we’re in the Asian Cup,” said Younghusband.
“If that (50th goal) happens in the next game, or in the next 10 games time, as long as we’re playing in the Asian Cup and then I’m happy,” he added.
Qualifying for the Asian Cup would be a culmination of years of work for Younghusband, brother James and keeper Neil Etheridge, the only active players from the 2010 Suzuki Cup roster when the Philippines made its way into the consciousness of the masses with a massive 2-0 win over Vietnam.
“It’s all or nothing really. We know Tajikistan is a tough team. They need a win. They’ll come out and be aggressive, they’ll come out a hundred percent so, it’s important that we have the right preparation,” said Younghusband.
The last few minutes in their friendly against Fiji might cause some concern heading into this match, as they conceded two goals, but Younghusband is keeping a positive mindset heading into this match.
“The last 15-20 minutes of the game against Fiji, it’s important to not let that get into our mindset and focus on the good things that we did in the game and bring that into Tajikistan,” said Younghusband.
“We’ll see how the game pans out. Hopefully we’re in a comfortable position. We don’t want them scoring their first goal and we start panicking and doing things that we don’t usually do. It’s important that we have a good start.