Azkals take on fancied Thais

The Philippine Azkals hope to pull the rug from under Thailand when they take on the defending champion on the road in the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 at the Thammasat Stadium on Monday, Dec. 26.

The Philippine Azkals huddle after their breakthrough win over Brunei. (Photo from Philippine Football Federation)

Game time is at 8:30 p.m. with the Filipinos looking to give their bid of advancing into the next round a huge boost with a victory.

While the odds are stacked against the Azkals in the pivotal contest, new head coach Josep Ferre said they will be giving everything in their power to put up a fight and end the string of misery against the fancied Thais.

“Of course it's gonna be tough against them. We will try to exploit a few weaknesses that they have and try to protect ourselves because they are very good at playing the goal. All our mentality and our shape and the team structure is to compete in the game,” said Ferre.

History is no doubt on the side of Thailand which has won six of their last eight head-to-head matchups since 2012 with the other two being a scoreless draw in 2014 and an 1-1 tally in 2018.

It was actually Thailand which sent the Philippines packing in the last edition of the tournament, coming away with a 2-1 victory last year.

The Azkals want to change all of that, especially that they are coming into the showdown with all of the momentum from their dominant 5-1 victory over Brunei to barge into the win column and give Ferre his first victory at the helm.

Kenshiro Daniels, who has now scored three over the first two games of the Azkals, is expected to spearhead the attack for the Filipinos along with young guns Jhan-Jhan Melizza and Sandro Reyes who both scored their first international goals last game.

Stephan Schrock is expected to provide the veteran presence anew to the young squad while goalkeeper Julian Schwarzer, who only surrendered a goal against Brunei, is poised to anchor the Azkals defense.