Azkals aim for ‘Miracle of Hanoi’ in AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals leg 2

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Patrick Reichelt (pictured) hopes to contribute anew in the Philippine Azkals’ offense in the second leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal match against Vietnam on Thursday, Dec. 6 in Hanoi. PHOTO COURTESY OF S. KIERON TAN

MANILA – The Philippine Azkals will try to salvage their campaign in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup when they face Vietnam in the second leg of their two-leg semifinal match Thursday night at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Azkals will need at least two goals in the 8 p.m. match to negate the two goals they gave up to the Vietnamese in the first leg on Sunday at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.

Vietnam came out as the victor in the opening leg 2-1 with a conversion from Nguyen Anh Duc and Phan Van Duc. The Philippines’ Patrick Reichelt was the sole scorer over the opponent’s defense.

Azkals head coach Sven-Göran Eriksson was optimistic his wards could repeat their feat eight years ago – when they stunned Vietnam at the latter’s home field to enter the Suzuki Cup semifinal round.

“We are not yet out,” Eriksson said. “If we want to beat this team (Vietnam), we have to get up and fight. I believe that we can still pull off a surprise win in Vietnam in the second leg.”

“In fact, I am happy with how my players performed,” he added. “Our players played beyond expectation since everyone was looking [at us] losing [to] Vietnam with a huge margin.”

The Azkals will still have an 18-man roster entering the second leg, with Luke Woodland out with injury and Neil Etheridge, Stephen Palla, Daisuke Sato, and Patrick Strauss recalled by their respective overseas teams.

The winner of the Philippines-Vietnam series will tangle with the winner of the Thailand-Malaysia series in a two-leg final round. Thailand and Malaysia fought toward a scoreless draw in the first leg of their own semifinal match./PN

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