MANILA, Philippines – Despite his absence in the match against Myanmar Monday afternoon, Philippine Azkals midfielder Phil Younghusband said he is confident his team is poised for a victory in the AFC Challenge Cup group stage.
"I am confident we will qualify (in the AFC Challenge Cup)," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com in an e-mail interview.
Younghusband said the Azkals is geared to redeem themselves after their sluggish performance against the Mongolian Blue Wolves, 1-2, in the qualifiers last week.
"I think the team is as prepared as it can be," the midfielder said, stressing the tweaked lineup will be enough against foreign rivals.
"We have a few new players with good quality and as good as you are... But we have a lot of good individual players in our team and I'm sure we will be very motivated."
The Azkals moved to the Challenge Cup group stage after dominating Mongolia via an aggregate goal score of 3-2.
In the match in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, midfielder Younghusband injured himself, preventing him from playing for 3 to 4 weeks.
The Azkals, meanwhile, are now pitted against national football players from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Palestine.
They will play all their matches in Myanmar.
For the next matches, Younghusband's spot will be filled by Filipino-Spanish Angel Aldeguer.
Speaking from his Philippine home, Younghusband said of the Azkals: "Good luck to the team! I know they will do well and make the Philippines proud."
Younghusband is apparently dismayed that a pulled hamstring will cause him to miss the games in Myanmar.
"I am disappointed to miss the games in Myanmar but luckily after Myanmar, we have a few months before our next game. But for me, 4 weeks will feel like months," he said.
The Filipino-British, however, said he is now healing from his injury.
"I'm feeling a lot better now. I am now able to walk with no pain which gives me great satisfaction. I have to rest completely for 1 week before I start therapy," he said, stressing his excitement to play for the Azkals again.
"I am itching to play again," he said.
Younghusband continued that what keeps him alive and kicking is the overwhelming support from the fans.
"Thank you for all your support! The kind words of encouragement and support have made me feel a lot better," he said.
"Let's support the team during the next few games and then look forward to the World Cup qualifiers," he added.