Azkals confident, wary as Challenge Cup kicks off
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national men's football team likes its chances in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup but remains wary of the other teams, according to star striker Phil Younghusband.
The Azkals are grouped with Afghanistan, Laos and Turkmenistan in Group B, and Younghusband told the website maldivesoccer.com that the team feels confident after their preparation and training camp.
"We are all ready for the competition. We feel quite confident," said Younghusband.
But he also acknowledged that the Challenge Cup was "not an easy competition."
"There are lots of tough teams in the competition, and I think any team has the chance of winning the Challenge Cup," he said. "All the teams in this tournament are strong, and (there are) no easy games in this competition."
"We have to do our homework and research on the teams, and make sure that we know their weakness and what’s strong," he added.
Younghusband, the top goal-scorer in the 2012 edition of the tournament, believes that the Azkals are a better team now than they were two years ago, when they placed third.
"I think we have a stronger team this time. We have Stephan Schrock, and we have lots of players that we have in 2012," he said.
"I think teams obviously will do their homework on us, and we have a new coach (Thomas Dooley), and I think we also have lots of new things. And teams will be more careful with us than 2012," Younghusband added.
The Azkals arrived in Maldives last weekend after holding a last training camp in Bahrain. They play Afghanistan on Tuesday in their first game of the tournament.