MANILA, Philippines — With its back against the wall, the Philippine football team intends to switch to a more aggressive mode when it collides with Kuwait in the second game of their second round World Cup qualifying series on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Unlike the first time they clashed where the Azkals stuck to their defensive game plan to the very end, the Azkals are willing to take the risk this time by attacking early in the hope of creating more opportunities.
Their opening game tactic proved catastrophic as they suffered a 3-0 defeat last Saturday in Hawalli, Kuwait.
“We will loosen up a bit in defense, press early and look for an early goal just like against Sri Lanka,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, referring to their style of play in their 4-0 first-round triumph against Sri Lanka three weeks ago. “But of course, it’s risky.”
The German coach’s decision to turn offensive-minded stems from the fact that the Filipinos need to score four goals or more to overcome Kuwait and advance to the third round of the qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
A 3-0 win by the Azkals will force an extra time.
The task seems insurmountable, but the 46-year-old Weiss isn’t about to raise the white flag.
“We were hesitant last time. If we get a goal in the first half, we will have a very good chance especially with the home crowd helping us,” Weiss said.
Petron“Anything is possible in football.”
A sell out crowd of 13,000 is expected at Rizal where kickoff is 7 p.m.
The return of skipper Aly Borromeo and Fil-German Stephan Schrock from one-game suspensions augurs well for their planned forceful stance in the return leg, Weiss said.
Despite the lopsided loss last Saturday, Weiss commends his wards for their tough stand.
“For me, the team played well unlike what most people are saying. We had a great fight in Kuwait. The first half, and that was the best match we have played under my guidance. We had clear chances in counters and if we had scored, you know how the match could turn.
We knew we will meet a highly advanced power in the gulf region in Kuwait and it was obvious after the game that we are not yet on that level,” Weiss said. “But I’ve been with the team for six months and we made good progress.”
Weiss admitted that the Azkals’ lack of experience in terms of playing together was exposed in the loss.
“That’s the money we have to pay for our inexperience,” said Weiss, adding that Fil-Dutch Paul Maulders, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Caraga are unlikely to play in the second leg because of their club commitments.
Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic credits Weiss for giving them a tough fight in the first half.
“I was satisfied only for the second half for how our team played. Michael (Weiss) read us well and he scouted us well in the first half,” the Serbian coach said.
“I’m not surprised. I know this team (Philippines) has good players. This team is strong and very serious if it keeps to system.”