Match tonight (Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand)
6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. in Manila) – Thailand vs Philippines
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals face their toughest test in their pre-tournament build-up for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup tonight when they take on regional power Thailand at His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary, 5th December 2007 Stadium in Nakhon Ratchasima.
The 6:30 p.m. friendly (7:30 p.m. in Manila) serves as the penultimate tune-up for the Azkals, who will later host Cambodia on Nov. 14 at Rizal Memorial before they launch their bid in the Nov. 22-28 Suzuki Cup in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley will have a full complement of 24 players at his disposal in the away duel with the War Elephants, including returning Ceres-La Salle FC stars Patrick Reichelt, Juani Guirado, Manny Ott and Jeffrey Christiaens.
The four couldn’t join the national side in its 3-0 spanking of Nepal last week in Doha, Qatar as Ceres expressed concern over their health with the overseas friendly and the crucial stretch of the United Football League FA League Cup overlapping.
With Ceres already crowned champions last Thursday, Reichelt and Co. have quickly rejoined the Azkals in time for the showdown with Thailand, a nation that Phl has not beaten since 1971.
“I think it’s always better to go there with a (UFL) championship on your back,” said Reichelt.
Paul Mulders, Ceres’ newest acquisition who played in the Nepal friendly, is also back in Azkals uniform along with Martin Steuble of Sporting Kansas, comebacking skipper Rob Gier and new recruit Alvaro Silva of Al Qadsia.
They join Phil and James Younghusband, Chris and Simon Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, Misagh Bahadoran, Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato, Simone Rota and Patrick Deyto and other UFL stalwarts as they bid to break through against the War Elephants, an opponent they’ve not beaten in their last 12 faceoffs. The last Phl-Thai meeting was in the 2012 Suzuki Cup in Bangkok, where the War Elephants prevailed, 2-1.