Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — With a little over a week before their crucial World Cup Qualifying fixture against Yemen, the Philippine Azkals have started their preparations for the match in earnest.
After drawing North Korea and losing out to Bahrain in the last round of games, Azkals Head Coach Thomas Dooley is no stranger to the significance of their meeting with Yemen.
“It’s a must win game because mentally, we have three months before the next game in Uzbekistan, and it depends on how North Korea and Uzbekistan plays in the next two games," said Dooley.
"We know what we have to do against Uzbekistan to stay alive. The last thing is that, we have to win the game to be still in the race.”
Suspended captainThe Philippines will be without the services of team captain Phil Younghusband for the game, who misses out due to suspension for accumulated yellow cards.
Despite the absence of the team’s leading goalscorer, Dooley expects the rest of the squad to step up.
“If a starter is missing, it's always a little bit of an issue," said the Azkals coach. "But on the other hand we have 23 unique players and if somebody doesn’t play and he has to play now."
"That’s his chance to show what he can contribute to the team.”
The Philippines currently lies in third place of Group H of the AFC World Cup Qualifiers, accumulating just seven points in five games played.
The Azkals will look to improve on its standing in when it faces off against Yemen at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on November 12.