By Olmin Leyba
Matches today (Rizal Memorial Stadium)
4 p.m. – Palestine vs Chinese Taipei (Battle for 3rd)
7 p.m. – Myanmar vs Philippines (Championship)
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals gun for a three-peat in the PFF Peace Cup against Myanmar at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium tonight, carrying not just the desire for glory but a revenge of sorts against the coach of their rival for the gold.
“I would be lying if I say there’s no extra motivation knowing coach Raddy (Avramovic) is on the other side,” said Azkals captain Rob Gier.
Prior to handling Myanmar, Avramovic called the shots for Singapore and steered the Lions past the Azkals in the semis in their eventual title-winning stint in the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2012.
“It was devastating to lose in the semifinal to them two years ago, and (Avramović) was the mastermind behind their success that year. When you come up against good coaches, you always want to do well,” said Gier.
“Obviously, we’re not playing against coach Raddy, we’re playing against Myanmar and their quality players. But it would be nice to get one over him for sure,” he added.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley expressed belief his wards are well-motivated to win this one.
“I don’t think the players need an extra motivation to play for the country. So wherever they play, they try to play their best. From their play, they will always be 100 percent,” Dooley said.
The Azkals kicked off their title-retention bid with a 5-1 thrashing of Chinese-Taipei on a rainy Wednesday night on a brace by Mark Hartmann, the first international goal by Gier and a connection by James Younghusband.
Myanmar advanced via a 4-1 disposal of an off-form Palestine.
“We’ve to finish the task against Myanmar and keep the Cup,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.