COACH Thomas Dooley knows that they will be playing against tough teams in their third qualifying-round campaign the 2019 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup football tournament.
To prepare against dangerous opponents, the Azkals will have to play in friendlies against opponents, who are higher in the world rankings.
That’s why the Azkals will have to look forward to an encounter against China before their June 13 encounter with Tajikistan.
“This friendly game against China will prepare us against Tajikistan. (It’s) Great to play games that will prepare us,” said Dooley.
Dooley said this after the Azkals pulled off a a 4-1 stopping of the Nepal Gorkalis Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
This put them in the early Group A lead with Yemen, which beat Tajikistan, 2-1, on Tuesday evening at the Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
The Azkals played with intensity and urgency in the first 30 minutes and their efforts paid off.
Team skipper Phil Younghusband scored two goals to lead the team to the win.
He could have scored the first one, but Younghusband’s penalty shot was saved by goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu in the 12th.
Bothered by that missed attempt, Younghusband bounced back and finally struck in the 21st and 23rd minutes.
“My dad always told me that when you miss the first one, it’s important that to you take the next one. Because that one (you missed) will play in your mind until the time you score,” said Younghusband.
The Gorkhalis showed that they were more fit than the Azkals after three weeks of high altitude training back home.
But as the Azkals stepped on the gas in the first half, they managed to hold on to a 3-1 advantage at halftime.
Things changed in favor of the Azkals after the Nepalis played with only 10 men in the 13th minute. This was after Nepali midfielder Bikram Lama was given a red card for a hand ball violation.
After this, Nepal’s Japanese coach Koji Gyotoku said they had difficulty controlling the right wing, with Azkals’ wingers Jeffrey Christaens and Iain Ramsay taking charge.