Azkals face tall odds in Fifa World Cup Qualifying
By Cedelf P. Tupas
The Philippine Azkals are facing the most challenging stretch of their World Cup Qualifying campaign with back to back away matches in Pyongyang and Manama in the space of five days this month.
With six points from three matches, the Azkals are hard pressed to pick up points from the two matches or risk falling further in Group H.
The Azkals stunned Bahrain, 2-1, before a 2-nil win over Yemen in Qatar last June. Uzbekistan dealt the Azkals their first loss of the campaign with a 5-1 beating last Sept. 8 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. The win boosted the Uzbeks to second spot ahead of the Filipinos on goal difference.
“The odds are against us in these two games and we have to make the best out of the situation,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
The top team in the group will gain an automatic seat in the third round while the four best second-placed teams from the eight groups are also advancing.
The Azkals have also solved transit visa problems. They need to pass through Beijing en route to Pyongyang.
Philippine Football Federation general secretary Ed Gastanes said the PFF pulled out all stops to make sure the Azkals won’t encounter any more issues in their journey to Pyongyang.
The team is set to leave Manila on Sunday, but several players are still with their clubs like Global FC, which is still competing in the Singapore Cup semifinals.