Azkals star striker, Phil Younghusband said that defense is their key against Singapore in their Semifinals matchup of the AESAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
As the star striker for the Philippine national men’s football team, Phil Younghusband is known for scoring goals at will against opponents.
Now facing Singapore in the semifinals of the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, he admitted, however, that the Azkals’ success will rely on one thing: defense.
“That’s one of our strengths, defense,” Younghusband said in an AKTV interview.
Singapore, which scored seven goals during the group stages en route to notching the top spot in Group B, boasts of midfielder/striker Shahril Ishak, who leads the tournament with four goals, and 42-year-old striker Aleksandar Duric, who has been one of the Lions’ deadly threats on the attack over the years.
Knowing that, Younghusband knows that the Azkals have to stifle their opponents’ attack, which he believes they did to nail victories against Vietnam and Myanmar during the group stages which earned them a second straight trip to the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup.
“Once we get our goal, we are difficult to break down,” he said. “There’s no space. They can’t find any space to get a shot.”
The Azkals, now beefed up with more seasoned players based abroad, were expected to deviate to a more attacking strategy this year after being known for parking the bus on defense and counterattacking on offense in their memorable semifinal run in the tournament in 2010.
But the Filipinos have shown toughness on the defensive side, so far only giving up two goals in the tournament which came in a 2-1 loss to Thailand thanks to the superb goalkeeping of veteran Eduard Sacapaño and the backline composed of Dennis Cagara, Rob Gier, Juani Guirado and Ray Jonsson.
Now playing in the semifinals starting on Saturday against Singapore, Younghusband hopes the Azkals to continue their performance to overcome Singapore, which they have already beaten twice in friendly matches this year.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to produce the goods,” he said. “It will be very difficult for us to break down.”