MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals brace for another tough international friendly tonight as they battle a North Korean side determined to pull off a vengeful victory at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“It will be a good test for us. We know what a good team North Korea is so we expect a tough match,” Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband said yesterday in the pre-match presscon.
The Pinoy booters stunned the Chollima when they squared off last March at the same venue, 3-2 in the process ousting the latter from the third round of the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers. That result is not lost on the visitors.
“We were not happy when we went back home from that game because we lost the game and we lost the chance to go to the next stage and now we’re here again,” said Pak Kwang Ryong through an interpreter.
It will be a reunion of sorts for Azkals coach Thomas Dooley and Jorn Andersen, who assumed the coaching chores for a rebuilding North Korea last May. The two were classmates in a coaching course in Germany in 2001.
“He’s a good friend of mine, we spent months together. He wanted to play against us and we wanted to play against them again so we’re very happy to organize this game,” said Dooley.
“We’ll be happy to beat Thomas Dooley here in Manila and play against a strong Philippine team,” Andersen said.
Both teams are eyeing redemption too after suffering losses in separate friendlies last Friday. Phl XI fell to Bahrain, 1-3, while North Korea bowed to Vietnam, 5-2.
“We lost, 3-1, the result is absolutely not good but with the way we played, the way the team fought, the way I could see some of the changes that I wanted to see come out so that makes me very happy for the future,” said Dooley.
Andersen said it will be a “totally different” North Korea team compared to the one that played in the WCQ.
“I came in May and started building up a new team of young and experienced players and make something new,” said Andersen.