MANILA – Philippine Azkals will gun for history when it faces Tajikistan in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers tonight.
A victory or a draw will allow the Philippine football team – currently No. 1 in the Group stage with 9 points – to clinch a slot in the AFC Asian Cup, a first for the country.
The Qualifiers match will be at 7:30 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
A loss will be a huge blow for Azkals as this will let Tajikistan, currently with 7 points, jump to No. 1 along with Yemen (7 points), which will face the lowly Nepal (2 points).
Before the crucial match, Azkals defeated Fiji 3-2 on Thursday evening in Manila. The Philippines went up by as much as 3-0 before thwarting a late rally by the visiting team.
Azkals’ Misagh Bahadoran thought the Fiji match prepared them well against Tajikistan.
“Fiji was a little bit physical and the players started to play one touch, two touches, moved the ball very well,” he said.
“If we play like this against Tajikistan, we have a big chance because we have very good quality players,” Bahadoran added.
While disappointed with the tune-up game, Azkals team manager Dan Palami still believes his players will do well against Tajikistan.
“I think we got to see (during the Fiji match) what we needed to do more so that we can do better on Tuesday. It’s not a good result,” Palami said. “Against Tajikistan, we would have paid a lot for some of the mistakes that we committed.”
In their first encounter on June 13 last year at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City, Azkals escaped Tajikistan 4-3 with goals from Javier Patino, Phil Younghusband and Daisuke Sato./PN