After win over Vietnam, Azkals relish shift in fortunes

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 29 2012 10:01 AM | Updated as of Nov 29 2012 06:01 PM

BANGKOK – After teetering on the brink, the Philippine Azkals sit in a more comfortable position heading into final game of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup’s group stages.

From occupying the rear in the Group A table following a 1-2 loss to Thailand, the Azkals vaulted to second with three points, gaining from their 1-0 victory over Vietnam Tuesday night and getting a lift from the host Thais' semis-clinching 4-0 rout of Myanmar.

This means the Pinoy booters have their fates in their hands.

A victory over Myanmar (one point) on Friday will automatically move the Azkals into the semis, regardless of the outcome of the other game between early qualifier War Elephants (six points) and Vietnam (one point).

But a draw could still be enough for the Azkals if Thailand will have at least a draw with Vietnam in the other game.

"We must score one goal because it will be difficult to rely on Thailand if they got the point. On the other hand, if we win by high margin and they lose against Vietnam, it is possible that they (Thais) will be second in the group which they want to avoid. I think Thailand will (try to) get the point in order to get No.1 because it will help them until the final, if they go there to have the home game in the first leg and not in the second leg," said Weiss.

To avoid complications, the Azkals will gun for the full point against Myanmar.

"Most probably we would need one point (draw) but I don't want to rely on that," said Weiss.

The Azkals lost a veteran player in the midfield as Fil-Danish Jerry Lucena left yesterday to return to his club.

"The one that is not here doesn't count. We knew that before, and we're happy that he was here. We thank him very much for his contributions. We have to find his counterpart. We have to find the right players who will put the strategy into practice. The ones who are willing to help, play our tactical game," he said.

The Azkals are riding the momentum from their ego-boosting victory over Vietnam, a reprise of their star-making upset back in 2010.

Subs Chieffy Caligdong and Angel Guirado combined in delivering the marginal goal in the 85th minute that brought life back into the Azkals' semifinal bid.

"That was a fantastic goal. Through pass, that was what I want in depths coming behind the defense line. This can be our strength. The finish was so beautiful, high level, world class," Weiss said.

He gave Guirado credit for setting that up.

"The pass was fantastic from Angel Guirado and we want to see Angel like this and not dribble with five men. We want to see Angel preparing goals and assisting," Weiss said.