PH football team faces uphill climb vs Vietnam in Hanoi SEAG

The national U-23 team is not shying away from the tough challenge it will face against host and defending champion Vietnam in the men’s football competitions of the 31st Southeast Asian Games Sunday, May 8 at the Viet Tri Stadium in Phu Tho, Vietnam.

Coach Norman Fegidero’s side will be huge underdogs in the 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. Manila time) match even though it started the campaign on a convincing note with a 4-0 win over Timor-Leste.

Vietnam is coming off a 3-0 win over Indonesia, the same country it beat in the final of the 2019 edition held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

But the Azkals U-23 would rather give their best shot than succumb to the low expectations.

“Vietnam is the host of the tournament, and of course they will have the 12th man which is their fans,” said Christian Rontini, who scored the opening goal against Timor-Leste.

“But we are not scared. We will face Vietnam with our heads up high, together. And it will be a nice fight, a nice game. I think this is the match that everybody wants to play because we have all the things that can make you a better player — big crowd, big team and big competition.

“For us, it will be a very good game. We will be ready, I’m sure of that,” Rontini added.

Fegidero is hoping that the team can map out a game plan that could give the Philippines a chance to get a favorable result.

“Vietnam is the best team in the competition. But we will make some adjustments,” said Fegidero.