MANILA, Philippines – After two straight draws against ASEAN rivals, the Philippine Azkals (149th) are hard-pressed to score a convincing triumph against a Guam side (194th) that comes into tomorrow’s Fifa international friendly in Bacolod City as a heavy underdog.
"I think we need to win big against Guam to justify the strength of the team we have,” Azkals ace striker Phil Younghusband said during yesterday's press conference in Bacolod.
The Azkals will parade nearly a full-strength team with Europe-based stalwarts like Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Denis Wolf, Neil Etheridge, and Paul Mulders on hand once more to hook up with Phl-based aces like Phil and James Younghusband.
The team, with a cast that's probably one of the strongest assembled, reels from a 2-2 stalemate with Indonesia last Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Football. Earlier, playing without Etheridge (suspension) and the Younghusbands (prior commitment), the Azkals fought Malaysia to a scoreless draw at the Tigers' turf.
“We will try to attack early, put them under pressure without neglecting our defensive duties,” said coach Michael Weiss.
The Younghusbands and Etheridge, who all came in as subs in the Indonesia fixture, are expected to start against the Guam Matao, who will have a familiar face in its roster in Kaya midfielder Jonahan Romero.
Highly-touted Fil-Danish Cagara and Lucena, who last week suited up less than 24 hours after arriving in Manila, are also fancied to be in the First 11 for the hosts that will miss co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong due to his red card in the last outing.
Phl XI will have an extra motivation in playing at the Panaad pitch, the birthplace of the Azkalsmania.