By Olmin Leyba (philstar.com)
KUWAIT – For Azkals captain Aly Borromeo, a palatable scoreless draw or a 1-1 standoff with higher-ranked Kuwait is not a remote possibility, especially if the Filipinos can overcome Al-Azraq in the middle.
"If we hold them here, we can come through (scoring) in Manila," said central defender Borromeo, on pins and needles while the International Football Federation is yet to give its final say on Phl's appeal on his suspension for Saturday's first match.
"We have to contain them here; a 1-1, 0-0 (full time count) will be a huge result for us. If we let them take advantage of us here, if we so much as give them a little momentum or space and they score 3-4 goals, with a gap like that, then definitely the series is over; we'll have tough time getting back in Manila," he added.
Borromeo and Fil-German Stephan Schrock have been suspended for the first leg of the Azkals' second-round duel with Kuwait in the 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers as a result of their cumulative yellow cards in the opening stage against Sri Lanka. The Filipinos have asked for the cancellation of the cautions and got endorsement from the Asian Football Confederation.
"Mentally, physically, I'm still psyching myself to be on that pitch come Saturday," said the Azkals’ skipper.
So much so that to him, there seems to be "weak" spot in the Kuwaitis' midfield.
"From videos we've seen of Kuwait, I think in midfield we'll win because they (Kuwait) are not very dynamic in the midfield," he said, hoping that young guys like Manny Ott and Jason de Jong can step up.
"If whoever will start in our midfield, like Manny or Jason or whoever is there, can overcome their midfield, then I think we have a chance. I won't say we'll dominate the game (with this), but it will put them on their backs, put pressure on them because all they do is play the flanks a lot then they drop their ball to their forwards," he noted.
For him, the pressure to notch a "W" lies more on the shoulders of Kuwait here.
"We're always underdogs, anyway, so we're not under pressure or anything. Pressure's definitely on them, this is still their homecourt but it does help to have thousands of Filipinos backing us up, also gives the motivation we need so that's a huge bonus," he said.
At least 5,000 OFWs have promised to rally behind the Azkals for this match.