|James Younghusband looks to pass to Anton del Rosario while Timor Leste’s Vicente Ramos Freitas tries to mark him in their Suzuki Cup qualifying match in Vientiane, Laos last Friday. The Filipinos won, 5-0.
MANILA, Philippines – Inspired by its emphatic 5-0 rout of Timor Leste last Friday, the Philippine football team guns for a slot in the Suzuki Cup main tournament as it takes on host Laos on Sunday.
A victory in their 7 p.m. (Manila time) showdown against the hosts at the at the National Stadium in the Vientiane City in Laos will boost the Filipinos to the group stages scheduled in Indonesia and Vietnam in December.
“The match (against Laos) will be a good test for our team,” said Philippine team manager Dan Palami. “The team’s morale is very high after that win over Timor Leste.
“Laos will be our toughest game here and we will be prepared,” said English coach Simon McMenemy, who took over the coaching helm two months ago from compatriot Des Bulpin.
“We will make sure that we will improve our performance and work on the things that caused us some problems in the game against Timor Leste,” he added.
Lessons from Friday game
The RP booters, led by Ian Araneta, got off to a flying start to lead the 4-nation meet with 3 points.
After 20 minutes of loosely-contested action, Araneta finally scored the icebreaker for the Filipinos in the 27th minute with a diving header off a goalmouth scramble.
“Ian has worked so hard to improve and I’m happy for him,” McMenemy said of the striker who has been on a roll since their tune-up in a Taiwan tournament last week.
Veterans Phil Younghusband (30th) and Anton Del Rosario (32th) also scored a goal each to complete the convincing win over the Timorese.
But the Filipinos showed some lapses, allowing the Timorese two clear-cut chances in the second half that could have turned the tide.
|RP co-captain Chiefy Caligdong applies pressure on Timor defender Miguel Santos Soares.
"The way we played today was similar to what we had practiced in training,” he added.
The Friday victory "will give us plenty of confidence going into our next match against Laos," McMenemy said. "But we expect a very tight match with the hometown crowd behind them.”
The Laos team struggled to a scoreless standoff against Cambodia last Friday.
Only the top two teams in this event will qualify for the main tournament set in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Before the Philippines-Laos match on Sunday, Cambodia and Timor Leste will try to stay alive when they tangle in the 5 p.m. game.