MANILA, Philippines — Bracing for a major tournament late this year, the Philippines begins its defense of the Philippine Peace Cup with a clash against old tormentor Chinese-Taipei Wednesday night at the start of the four-nation tournament at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Azkals have a score to settle in the 7 p.m. match with the Taiwanese, who pulled off a stunning 1-2 upset last year at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
“We are hosting the tournament and it’s great to have these strong teams for us to test the level that we’re at,” said Dooley. “The Chinese-Taipei game is a must-win game. We have to make the fans happy.”
The winner of the match will move on to the finals opposite the survivor of Palestine-Burma (Myanmar) slated at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“There is no doubt that this Peace Cup is going to be the most difficult one,” said Azkals skipper Rob Gier. “Chinese-Taipei beat us last year. It’s certainly not a walkover.”
More than keeping the trophy for a third straight year, the Azkals hope to impress coach Thomas Dooley as he starts laying the foundation for the team that will vie in the AFF Suzuki Cup in Vietnam late this year.
Gier is one of three Europe-based players who will reinforce the team powered by United Football League stars Jason de Jong, Phil and James Younghusband and Patrick Reichelt.
Netherlands-based Paul Mulders has already trained with the team, while Roland Muller was scheduled to arrive late Tuesday from Germany.