MANILA – Team manager Dan Palami is pleased with the way the Philippine Azkals have been playing in the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup, and he hopes their run continues until they clinch a finals ticket in the prestigious Asian Cup.
After settling for a goalless deadlock with Afghanistan in the group stage, the Azkals topped Group B with a pair of victories over Laos and their 2012 tormentor, Turkmenistan.
The Philippines will battle host country Maldives on Tuesday night for the right to advance to the finals.
“We'll take it one game at a time and I think they are peaking just at the right moment,” said Palami in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TJ Manotoc.
“Every game we play has been improving, the results are coming in and we have been able to score. The team until the last game has yet to concede a goal.”
The Azkals team manager said the national team has shown that it has already adjusted to coach Thomas Dooley’s system even as it demonstrated making tweaks in its style of play at the middle of each match.
He added that Dooley also did well in motivating the Azkals despite making major changes in their line-up for the tournament.
“I think it speaks well of how the coach has been able to motivate the players and inspire the players to do well. This is very important if you want to go to the championship,” said Palami.
He said they expect a difficult match against host team Maldives which enjoys the home town advantage.
Maldives will be appearing in their first Challenge Cup semifinal after finishing second in Group A behind Palestine after a draw with Palestine. Maldives lost its opener to Myanmar, but bounced back with a victory over Kyrgyzstan.
“I've seen the game that the other teams they've played against, somehow it's going to be difficult because of that (home advantage),” said Palami.
“But I think we have come to show we are ready to face Maldives and any other team up to the championship.”