MOMENT OF TRUTH | Azkals battle Uzbeks in huge WCQ affair

Rejj Sibayan (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

BOCAUE--The Philippine Azkals’ caliber will finally be put to the test when they faced a highly-favored Uzbekistan side at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Philippine Sports Stadium.

After winning their first two World Cup qualifying matches against Bahrain and Yemen and a tune-up game with Maldives last week, the Azkals are going into the competition with momentum and confidence on their side.

Uzbekistan, on the other hand, got a shocker when it lost its first match against North Korea in June but came back to overcome Yemen, 1-0, on Friday (Philippine Time) in Tashkent.

Both Azkals coach Thomas Dooley and team manager Dan Palami refused to give a prediction except to say the Philippine national football team will give a good fight against the Uzbeks, who are ranked 76th in the FIFA rankings. The Azkals are ranked 125th.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Palami has declared, while Dooley said “we have a great team that is playing good football.” This is the first time the Philippine Azkals will be playing the Uzbeks.

Uzbekistan is considered a tough squad and one of the best teams in Asia along with football powerhouses Iran, South Korea, Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and China.

But Azkals players like Phil Younghusband, the team captain, and Misagh Bahadoran, who scored in both their matches against Bahrain and Yemen, are confident the team will beat Uzbekistan.

They said the team has several experienced players with exposure to international competitions and the chemistry and relationships among the members are good.