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3/25/2011

Final or in the doghouse: Azkals go for broke vs Bangladeshis


source: By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) 

update:  fulltime PHL 3-0 Bngldesh [link]

RANGOON – The Azkals won’t settle for anything less than a victory in today’s closing matches of the AFC Challenge Cup group stage here.

After two successive draws, the only hope for the Philippines team to advance into next year’s eight-team finals is to beat Bangladesh.

Coach Michael Weiss said that’s what they’re going to do.

“We have to win the match. If you want to succeed you cannot do it with draws. We must win this match,” he said yesterday.

The Azkals took it nice and easy in the morning then left for the pitch at around 3 p.m. and try to get a little more used to the searing heat.

The Azkals, with a handful players coming in from Europe for this group stage, have played two afternoon matches here.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, has played two evening matches, and the Filipinos are hoping that the heat would slow down the players from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh lost to Palestine, 2-0, last Monday then came back to beat Myanmar the other night, 2-0, for a total of three points.

The Azkals, on the other hand, have two points behind two draws with Myanmar and Palestine. A victory over Bangladesh will mean everything for them.

A loss, or even a draw, will slam the door on the Azkals, and give Bangladesh the ride to the next round.

In case of ties, the winner-over-the-other rule and eventually the goal difference will apply.
Whatever, Weiss said the Azkals should go for the win.

Simultaneously, Palestine plays Myanmar at the Youth Training Center.

Weiss is really hoping that the temperature, which could get as high as 37 degrees this afternoon, will favor the Azkals.

But he admitted that it has taken its toll on the Azkals as well, considering that at least five players in its lineup had just come from Europe or the United States where the weather is still cold.

“Three matches in five days are really very demanding. And I have players coming in from Europe so they cannot perform at the highest level. But I still hope the weather will be to our side,” he said.

The coach from Bangladesh, Robert Rubcic, thinks the same way, too.

“My team is very tired, very, very tired. We’ve played two games in three days and it’s been very difficult for my young players,” he said.

“That’s why it’s very difficult to say what will happen tomorrow. The Philippines has better individual players so I must change my tactic,” he said.

Bangladesh can fight for the draw, and just focus on defense, because that’s all they need to advance.

“It’s true. They might fight for the draw,” said Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo.

“That’s why we should go direct and put the pressure on them. Put the pressure on them right away and not hold back and wait for time. We’re all pumped up. It all boils down to this game,” he added.

“We should score early,” said defender Anton del Rosario.

But Rubcic said they always go for the win.

“We will go for it. We will try. Everybody in Bangladesh wants us to win,” he said during yesterday’s press conference.

Weiss listened, a few rows back, as the Bangladeshi coach took the microphone.

“I think our boys are more confident. Now they have to show that they deserve to be in the next round,” he said.

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