The Philippine Azkals look to tighten their grip on third spot in Group A when they take on tailender Guam Friday night, June 11 in the second round of the World Cup/Asian Qualifiers in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Out to rebound from a 2-0 defeat to China last Tuesday, the Azkals aim to secure the full three points against the Guamanian side in the match which kicks off at 6 p.m. local time (10 p.m. Manila time).
Currently with seven points and with a very slim chance of reaching the next round of the World Cup Qualifiers, the Philippines needs a victory in order to stay above Maldives (six points) in the race for third place in Group A.
The third-best team in the group at the end of the second round gains a direct spot in the third round of the Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Coach Scott Cooper’s side plays a Guamanian side that has yet to produce a point in seven matches in the joint qualifiers.
But the Scottish mentor warned that facing Guam won’t be as easy as it looks.
“The Guam team that played against China was totally different from the team that played against Syria ,” Cooper said during the launching of the Azkals’ new kit provided by Spanish manufacturing brand Kelme.
Cooper was referring to the contrast in Guam’s performances in its 7-0 defeat to China in Suzhou and the 3-0 setback to Syria.
“I thought Guam delivered a decent performance against Syria. They showed at times some athleticism, some good intricate passing and some difficult movement,” he added.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami said defender Michael Kempter, who came off early in the match against China after being elbowed in the nose, has been cleared to play while veteran Kenshiro Daniels remains day-to-day after hurting his hamstring.
Veteran midfielder Manny Ott, who arrived just last Monday after being a late addition to the depleted squad, could be available for the match.
Eyes will be glued mostly on defender Jefferson Tabinas, who put up a splendid performance in his Azkals debut.