By Olmin Leyba
After enduring a challenging two-game assignment in North Korea and Bahrain, the Philippine Azkals relish the opportunity to see friendly faces again on the familiar grounds of Manila for their upcoming Fifa World Cup qualifiers match against Yemen.
“We always look forward to playing in Manila,” said veteran defender Rob Gier.
The Azkals will face the Yemenis on Nov. 12 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in a home outing they hope to hurdle to try to stay alive in Group H of the WCQ.
Phl XI is currently on third spot with seven points behind North Korea’s 13 and Uzbekistan’s nine after their tough twin outings on the road last month.
The Pinoy booters held North Korea to gutsy 0-0 draw in Pyongyang but failed to sustain the charge and blew a chance to take second spot as they yielded a 0-2 defeat to Bahrain in Manama.
“We got to deal with this result and face the near impossible task of trying to get nine points in our last three games to get ourselves a chance (to earn a berth to the third round of the qualifiers),” said team manager Dan Palami after the stinging defeat in Bahrain.
Aside from Yemen, whom the Azkals outclassed (2-0) the first time around in Doha, Qatar, the Pinoys will also be up for a second meeting with North Korea in Manila and Uzbekistan in Tashkent in March 2016 to end group hostilities.
Meanwhile, to prepare for the Yemenis, management has set a nine-day training camp beginning today.
The Azkals will spend the first seven days of buildup at McKinley Hill Stadium before moving to Rizal Memorial on Nov. 10.