Azkals kick off Challenge Cup campaign
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals begin their campaign in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup Tuesday night at the Hithadhoo Stadium in Addu City, Maldives, where they play Afghanistan in their first game of the group stage.
The game will mark the tournament debut of new Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley, who took over the team earlier this year.
"In football, it's always a 50-50 chance, and the team who wins most games, they will win in the end," Dooley said in an interview with maldivesoccer.com. "I am very sure that every player will give 100% on the field. So we won't take any game easily."
Afghanistan is the higher-ranked team (128th in the latest FIFA rankings), while the Azkals are ranked 140th.
But the Azkals will be boosted by several foreign-based players, including first-choice goal-keeper Neil Etheridge and Stephan Schrock, who linked up with the squad ahead of the tournament.
The Philippines and Afghanistan were the winners in their respective groups during the qualification stage of the tournament last year.
Afghanistan enters Tuesday’s match having won two of its last three games, including a 1-0 victory over Kyrgyztan last May 12.
Meanwhile, the Philippines last competed on April 27, a goalless draw with Malaysia.
The game will be shown live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action at 11:30 p.m.