Philippine Azkals take on revenge-minded Maldives ahead of World Cup Qualifiers matches

Santino Honasan on Sep 03, 2015 11:54 AM
Azkals, Maldives meet in tune-up match ahead of Qualifiers
(Josh Albelda/ABS-CBN Sports)

Before the Philippine Azkals look to make it three wins in a row in their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign on September 8, they will first go up against the Maldives in an international friendly match on Thursday, September 3 at the Rizal Memorial Football Field.

The last time that the two squads met, it was at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, with the Pinoy side coming away with a 3-2 victory in extra time.

With both teams boasting very different lineups from their last meeting, Maldives’ Akram Abdul Ghanee believes that things will be different this time around.

“We played last in the Maldives, and we lost, but this is a whole new story here,” Ghanee told the media during the pre-match presser. “The Philippines is a strong team, and they will help us improve a lot.”

Philippine national team coach Thomas Dooley also touched on how different this Maldives team is since the last time they met, but reminded his boys to keep their focus.

“It’s a different team, they have only four players who played against us in the Challenge Cup, so they’re a new team right now. Obviously those four players are very, very difficult to play against, they’re good players, so our team has to be aware of that,” Dooley told the media.

As for the Azkals, they will also be having a very different team. In fact, they’ll be having a different team from their last World Cup Qualifiers matches, with the loss of Rob Gier and Simone Rota due to injury as well a few more changes to the roster.

The friendly match will serve as a tune-up for both squads, with the Azkals facing the highest-ranked team in their group in Uzbekistan, while Maldives looks for their first Qualifiers win when they meet China PR, also on September 8.

“The important games are the World Cup Qualifiers, but going into the World Cup Qualifiers, it’s important that you get good results because both teams don’t want to have bad results, so it’s an important game for us, and it’s important that after the game, we can look back at it and go into the Uzbekistan game with confidence and having gotten a good result because winning is a habit…and going into Uzbekistan, we want to continue that habit.” said Azkals captain Phil Younghusband.  

For their part, the Red Snappers of the Maldives are also here to win.

“The Philippines is much stronger than us, but we are looking for a win tomorrow, and I think that we’ll give them a good fight,” said Ghanee.

 

The Philippine Azkals and the Maldives kick off on Thursday, September 8 at 8:00 pm. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports+Action 23 starting at 7:45 pm!

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