Azkals’ bite needed now more than ever

January 13, 2019

THE Philippines hopes to be fully recharged when it plays Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday to remain in contention in the AFC Asian Cup.

The Azkals lost much of their stamina in their first two outings which they both dropped.

“A lot of the players looked a bit leggy and tired because of the effort put in against South Korea,” said skipper Phil Younghusband after the Azkals absorbed a stinging 0-3 spanking from China in a loss that them on the brink of elimination in Group C.

After producing a magnificent display in their campaign opener before losing narrowly to the fancied Koreans, the Philippines tried to replicate that magic.

The Azkals hung tough in the first 40 minutes before the Chinese opened the scoring courtesy of Wu Lei, who eventually netted a brace.

“When you are tired, and you go 1-0 down after 40 minutes, everything seems a bit further and a bit slower. I definitely think the performance we put in against South Korea Republic, especially the defensive side, took its toll against China,” said Younghusband, who was a substitute for the second straight match.

Once the Chinese got the first goal, the pressure came in for the Philippines side. It was too much to overcome for the Filipino kickers.

“Against South Korea we were able to keep it at 0-0 until around the 70th minute, but with China scoring in the first half it made things harder for us,” said Younghusband.

“You start to chase the equalizer, chase the game, and lose spaces and lose discipline. And good teams are able to exploit that,” he added.

With their second successive defeat, the Azkals now need a win in their final Group C match against the Kyrgyzs to remain in contention for a place in the Round of 16 as one of the best third place finishers.

“We have to win the next game,” said Younghusband. “We don’t have to go gung-ho at the beginning, but we know at some point we have to go for it. We’ve got 4-5 days before the next game, so we’ll have time on the training pitch to prepare for the game.”

Kyrgyzstan is also trying to stay alive after bowing to the Koreans, 0-1, last Friday.