MANILA – Philippine Azkals manager Dan Palami on Sunday said the national team is in positive vibes ahead of an all-important match against China in the second round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (WCQ).
“Right now the team is upbeat, we’re very motivated,” Palami said.
The Azkals have already arrived in Sharjah, UAE as they gear up for a must-win contest against China at 1 a.m. Tuesday (Philippine Time).
A huge upset by the 125th-ranked Azkals over the 77th-ranked Chinese squad will give the former a major boost in its bid to enter the third round of the WCQ.
The top teams per group and the four best second-placed teams after the second round will qualify for the third round and will automatically earn spots in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
But for the Azkals to at least get second spot in Group A, they must beat China, Guam, and Maldives in order of the schedule and hope that China, which blasted Guam in their recent encounter, will falter in the end.
“We’re aiming for nine points here,” Palami added.
For now, the focus is on China, which was supposed to host the matches in a bubble format in Suzhou but prompted to give up the hosting rights to UAE.
“We’re quite optimistic and the players are motivated to perform,” Palami said. “They’ll be fighting really hard and make sure the country is represented very well.”
United City midfielder Stephan Schrock will lead the team as the skipper with Suphanburi winger Patrick Reichelt named the vice captain in place of Birmingham keeper Neil Etheridge, who begged off after undergoing surgery. (PNA)