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Azkals face Bahrainis in friendly

Game Today
(Rizal Memorial Stadium)
8 p.m. – Philippines vs Bahrain

The Philippine Azkals look to build more momentum before the AFF Suzuki Cup next month when they face Bahrain in an international friendly match tonight at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Playing Bahrain for the third time in 16 months, including twice in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers, the Azkals want to show some significant progress in the 8 p.m. match and give rival teams in the Suzuki Cup something to worry about.

The game is the first of two friendlies slated in the international window.

The Azkals play North Korea on Monday at the same venue in their first meeting since the Philippines’ dramatic 3-2 victory in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers last March.

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said the two friendlies bode well for the squad as they bracketed in a tough group that includes defending Suzuki Cup winner Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.

“I think the longer we train, the players are getting more focused,” Dooley said during yesterday’s pre-match press conference at the Century Park Hotel. “So now we have those two games that we don’t to lose. Winning games against Bahrain and North Korea helps us tremendously build confidence.

“But we should never be negative and overconfident (going into the Suzuki Cup), if that’s our thinking then we gonna lose. But it should give us confidence going into those games that we are better. If we have that kind of mentality going into those games of the tournament, then we will be successful.”

The Azkals enter the match minus some of their key players in goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who has already begged off from participating in the Suzuki Cup because of club duties in, and defender Daisuke Sato, who is recovering from an injury.