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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Azkals in must-win situation vs. Garudas in AFC tourney

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Another close encounter is expected when the Philippine Azkals national men’s football team meets the Indonesian Garudas at the resumption of the second round matches of the 2026 FIFA World Cup AFC qualification on Thursday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The Azkals are ready to bounce back after their 0-2 loss to Vietnam last Thursday, coach Hans Michael Weiss said ahead of their 7 p.m. clash with the Garudas.

“We are coming off a 0-2 loss, and Indonesia is coming off a 1-5 loss. It will be difficult for us if we don’t win. It will be difficult to qualify for the next round if we don’t win,” said Weiss.

The Azkals will remember their setback to Vietnam, coming into their showdown with Indonesia.

The match was close and they had scoring opportunities. But this time against the Garudas, the Azkals will need to be more focused in converting goals.

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And so will the Indonesians, now that Iraq and Vietnam share the lead in Group F.

“We got a big advantage in our preparations. And we are adjusting to our difficult situation,” said Indonesia’s Korean coach Shin Tae Yong.

After their first game, Weiss said he is seeking to get the right mix of players on the pitch.

“We have little thoughts on how far we can go, how far we can press. But we have a little more than in our last game,” added Weiss.

Backed by a big home crowd the last time around, Weiss hopes that fans will once again flock to the Vito Cruz venue cheer them on again.

And going in to their game with the Garudas, Weiss said they will not allow the Indonesians to leave them behind by a big margin.

“The Philippines has never fought close games, to be beaten or get drawn by opponents, just like in our game with Vietnam. It was a very fair result,” said Weiss.

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