VIENTIANE: Philippines may only require a point on Tuesday against Cambodia to progress to the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010, but coach Simon McMenemy insists that his side will not be approaching their final qualifying match with a defensive mindset.
James Younghusband's last-ditch equaliser in a 2-2 draw with hosts Laos on Sunday sent the Pinoys back to the top of the qualification group, ahead of Cambodia on goal difference. With the top two progressing to the group stage, they need only to avoid defeat at the National Sports Complex in Vientiane to advance.
McMenemy, however, does not want to allow his charges to sit on their advantage.
Said the Englishman: "It was a crucial goal at the end of the match against Laos. We deserved it and in the bigger picture, it made a significant difference for what we need in our final game in order to qualify for the group stage.
"However, we do intend to go into the game with Cambodia looking for a draw. We want to win."
While disappointed with his side's first-half performance against Laos, McMenemy was pleased with the grit and determination that his players showed in battling back from a two-goal deficit.
"I felt that we were deserving of a point and you can see a lot of improvement in the players. In the past, Philippines footballers have been criticised for not showing too much passion. If the team was losing by two goals, they were unlikely to come back from that position.
"But we have been working on our team spirit and the players showed after half-time that they were not prepared to lie down and fought until the very end. I'm very pleased with the passion and endeavour that they showed.
Emelio Caligdong was stretchered off after taking a kick to the inside of his thigh in the first half but McMenemy believes that he should be ready for Tuesday's match.
"He's feeling very sore right now but we will put him his paces in training and he should be okay," McMenemy explained. "He's like rubber so he should bounce back quickly."
Cambodia have lost their last two AFF Suzuki Cup meetings with Philippines, going down 0-1 in Bacolod in the 2007 qualifiers and 2-3 in the Phnom Penh two years ago.
And despite his side's morale-boosting 4-2 victory over Timor Leste on Sunday, coach Lee Tae-hon acknowledged that it will be a much harder task to break down the well-built and well-drilled Filipinos.
"Philippines have a good team and they are also strong physically," said the South Korean.
"However, we have a determined side who want to win. I will prepare them as well as possible and I have strong confidence that they can get past this qualifying round."
The winners of the match will top the qualifying group regardless of the result of Tuesday's later game between Laos and Timor Leste.