By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - With two morale-boosting victories and a share of the lead, the Philippine Azkals will carry more confidence not to mention the needed momentum as they pursue their dreams in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
“We look forward to the next games with hope that we continue to build on what we have produced so far and build on this momentum,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.
The Azkals, fielding what many believed is the strongest team to date, upstaged higher-ranked Bahrain last June 11 at home, 2-1, then followed it up with an impressive 2-0 shutout of Yemen Tuesday night in Qatar, to join North Korea atop the Group H table after two match days.
“We take it one game at a time but as you get the result, first against Bahrain and then against Yemen, somehow, you’ll feel that you’re a step closer to what your objectives are and you would like to believe that somehow, what we dream is achievable. So we believe,” said Palami, whose team targeted to advance to the third round of the WC qualifiers.
The Pinoy booters’ WC campaign resumes on Sept. 8 with a home outing against Uzbekistan, the top-ranked team in the group that should be aching to bounce back from a 2-4 loss to North Korea over in Pyongyang last June 16.
“We’ll play against a very strong team Uzbekistan. They lost to North Korea in North Korea and with the pressure, they will certainly come out strong and play with everything they got against the Philippines. So we have to make sure we’re ready as a team and we really hope the fans will come in droves to support the Azkals,” said Palami.
The Azkals will get together again in the last week of August to prepare for the Uzbekistan game. Palami said the Philippine Football is arranging an international friendly on Sept. 3.