Younghusband says break did good for Philippine Azkals
Santino Honasan on Mar 22, 2017 09:17 AM
"I think having that break put in a good stead mentally for this coming year." - Phil Younghusband
Since starting their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign, the Philippine Azkals had a pretty active schedule, which skipper Phil Younghusband said ran from October of 2015 to December of 2016.
The tail end of that season was a quite forgettable AFF Suzuki Cup tournament wherein the Azkals failed to make the semis for the first time since 2008.
Since then, the senior men's national team has been on break, with other members fulfilling club duties here and overseas.
On March 28th however, the Azkals begin duty once again as they open their AFC Asian Cup campaign against Nepal at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
According to the Fil-Brit captain, the quick hiatus was beneficial for the Azkals.
"I think the break did us good. After that long season, mentally, everyone needed a break. We talk amongst ourselves and we'd be like 'It's been was a long season.' You can get overloaded with football, with anything, if you do too much of it, it can be overloaded." Younghusband told ABS-CBN Sports.
Younghusband will be playing competitive football for the first time since the Suzuki Cup, while his teammates from Filipino clubs Global Cebu FC and Ceres Negros FC however, have been active for a while now, representing the country in the AFC Cup.
"For me, just having a break from football, making sure we got that hungriness back, we got that motivation back, the wanting to play football and not have a break. I think having that break put in a good stead mentally for this coming year."
Before facing off against Nepal however, the Azkals are set to take on Malaysia in an international friendly match. Think of it as a tuneup match for the upcoming tournament.
"If we can beat Malaysia, then we can see where we are at the moment, because this is our first game this year , we need to know where we are as a team, as individuals, physically, mentally, tactically." Younghusband said.
The Philippines and Malaysia have quite the football history, having gone head-to-head 18 times since 1962. The results haven't been too kind for the Philippines though, as the Malaysians lead the head-to-head with eleven wins, as compared to the Philippines' two wins.
The last time that the Philippines won against Malaysia, it was in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games.
Their last four meetings however, have gone to a draw.
"Malaysia will be a good test because they're a good team, and we need to see where we are coming into the Nepal game." said Younghusband.
The Philippines and Malaysia face off in an international friendly match on Wednesday, March 22, 7:30 PM at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.