MANILA, Philippines -- The mood was light as the pre-match press conference was about to begin.
But when Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic began to speak, everybody listened to what he had to say.
“I know the Philippines beat Singapore in the last two times we played them, but those were exhibition matches, and the Philippines should know now that we have won this tournament twice and we know what it takes to win,” said Avramovic.
“We will make sure they will have to wait two more years to have a chance to win this tournament.”
Meanwhile, Azkals team manager Dan Palami said the Philippines intends to play the spoiler.
“We know Singapore is in familiar territory and they have been here two times already. The Philippines will not be complacent in its quest for that dream that has been elusive so far, we are a young team and but we want to, I'm sure in historical perspective, Singapore has had a good run at it but the Philippines intends to write its own history,” said Palami.
“We hope that with full respect to Singapore, we hope that with both teams playing well that we have the result that we want,” he added.
With fans expected to fill up the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, Palami said this will be a huge factor for the Azkals.
He noted that it’s a dream come true not just for the fans but also for the players to finally play a semifinals home game for their kababayans.
Coach Avramovic did take note again of the European lineage of most of the Azkals on the pitch and said Singapore players actually can match up better with the size and physical style of play of the Philippine team.
He added they have learned the lessons from their two friendly match losses and are ready to come out victorious this time around.
The Azkals face the Lions in the first leg of their home-and-away 2-leg series starting 8 p.m. on Saturday for the chance to battle either Thailand or Malaysia in the finals.
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