High expectations for Azkals ahead of friendlies

From a report by TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 08 2014 01:08 PM | Updated as of Apr 08 2014 09:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national football team leaves for Qatar Tuesday where they will compete in two friendlies as they continue to prepare for the AFC Challenge Cup.

The Philippine Azkals will face the Nepal national team on April 11, and the Al Ahli soccer club on April 14.

It will be their third and fourth matches under the guidance of new head coach Tom Dooley.

Azkals forward Phil Younghusband said the team has higher expectations now as they believe they can defeat Nepal.

“That’s the goal,” said Younghusband. “That was the goal in the first two games, but obviously, the opposition we were playing against was very good.”

In Dooley’s coaching debut, the Azkals had battled to a draw against Malaysia, 0-0, and then lost to a higher ranked Azerbaijan team, 0-1.

“But playing against Nepal, we’re expected to win,” said Younghusband. “Our expectation is to win and score goals, and that’s the goal now.”

“All the players feel that we’re playing better football, and we’re passing the ball and we’re creating chances,” he added. “It’s just scoring goals and winning the game.”

“Coach (Dooley) has told us that that’s the objective now. Although we’ve played good football, at the end of the day we have to put the ball at the back of the net.”

The 22-man pool for the April friendlies features a mix of national team regulars, new players and returning veterans.

Returning veteran Simon Greatwich said both the veterans and the new players are eager to prove their worth so they can be included in Dooley’s line-up for the Challenge Cup in May.

“It’s great to see the young guys here and us older guys having a chance to come back. The energy is great, and it’s a nice chance for Coach Dooley to choose from the best available talent,” he said.