Azkals feel pressure to deliver after Pacman's defeat

By TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2012 06:24 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2012 02:25 AM


SINGAPORE -- The Singapore Lions and the Philippine Azkals both held their last training sessions Tuesday night ahead of their do-or-die showdown for a ticket to the finals in the ongoing 2012 Suzuki Cup.


The Lions were on hand first at their home field, the Jalan Besar Stadium -- the same venue where the match would be held Wednesday night.

But as the Lions just got warmed up, the heavens had other things in mind and a heavy downpour caused the delay and eventual cancellation of the remainder of the Singapore team's practice.

Luckily for the Azkals, the rain slowed down to a drizzle as they arrived. Still, the coaching staff was cautious to watch out for thunderstorms, which are common in Singapore.

The rains eventually stopped and allowed the Azkals to enjoy the artificial turf of Jalan Besar to get used to the speed of play that will be a factor in their match.

Azkals coach Michael Weiss is happy with the way the players have taken care of themselves and recovered from the grueling game last Saturday.

“I think the most important thing was to recover well from the first leg. It was very intense on both sides,” said Weiss.

Some members of the team admit that they do feel the added pressure of having to uplift the spirits of Pinoy spots fans whose hearts were broken after Manny Pacquiao's devastating loss.

“I'd be lying if I said there isn't a little more pressure now that Manny has lost. I mean, people are looking towards us, you know, people are sending us lots of messages, you know, saying to almost do this for Manny, as well as doing it for the nation. Yeah, I think there is an extra responsibility on our shoulders now. But, you know, for me, I love that kind of pressure. That’s why we play the game,” said Azkals co-captain Rob Gier.

“Otherwise we just play down the park with no pressure and just enjoy the football like that. It’s one thing that comes with the pressure that comes with being a professional at this level,” he said.

The Jalan Besar Stadium is expected to be filled to the max with its 8,000-seater capacity, while thousands of Filipinos based in Singapore are disappointed they were not able to snag the few tickets allotted for the away team fans.

The match will begin at 8 p.m. and soon we will find out who among the Lions or the Azkals deserve to advance to the finals.