29 March 2016


After beginning their campaign in impressive form with victories over Bahrain and Yemen, the Azkals have since suffered four defeats and a draw and are currently fourth in Group H.
Bahrain are presently in third place and will advance straight to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers, with the Philippines running the risk of having to go through the playoffs should they not finish as one of the four best fourth-placed teams.
But with the Bahrainis facing a tricky visit to Group leaders Uzbekistan, the Azkals know that a victory of their own should be enough to see them climb above their competitors.
Although it will not be easy against a DPR Korea outfit also challenging for top spot, Dooley insists his team must believe in themselves, especially after last Thursday’s brave display in a narrow 1-0 defeat to Uzbekistan.
“Because of the fight last week against Uzbekistan, they know how to play against those big teams,” he said, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“They just have to have confidence against North Korea.
“This time, it’s a little bit different; I want to win now, and my opinion is we can win.
“Anything is possible.”
There will also be extra motivation for the Philippines after veteran defender Juan Luis Guirado confirmed in Monday’s pre-match press conference that the game would be his last before retiring from international football.
The 36-year-old, who was born in Spain but qualified to play for the Azkals through his mother, has been a mainstay in the team since 2012 and represented them at two AFC Challenge Cups and AFF (Asean Football Federation) Championships.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be my last game in the national team,” said the Ceres La Salle centre-back.
“I feel myself as still a young person, but my body is not anymore.
“We have a busy schedule with our club and here (with the) Azkals. I have to focus on my team and my family.
“This has been the most beautiful experience of my life as a person and a footballer.”
It appears the Philippines are currently transitioning to a new generation, with Guirado following the likes of Rob Gier, Paul Mulders and Jerry Lucena to have called time on their international careers recently.


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