THE Philippines is in for a crucial second leg match with China in the joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup qualifier at dawn today, June 8, at the Sharjah Stadium in Sharjah, UAE.
The Azkals are in dire need of a win if they want to stay in the running for a spot in the next round.
The Azkals are in third place behind Syria and China. Syria is at first place with 18 points, followed by China with 10 points and the Philippines with seven points.
The Philippines and China were in a scoreless draw in their first leg match at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Azkals, however, are without their star goalkeeper Neil Etheridge in the second leg, who is out because of surgery.
The Philippines will rely on their new goalkeepers Bern Schipmann, Kevin Ray Mendoza and Quincy Kammeraad to cover the huge void left by the absence of Etheridge.
The squad, however, will have veteran players Stephan Schröck, Carlie de Murga, Patrick Reichelt, Martin Steuble, Manny Ott, Mike Ott, Angel Guirado, Mark Hartmann, Kenshiro Daniels, Alvaro Silva and Luke Woodland. The team will also field out young players like Jefferson Tabinas, Mar Diano, Michael Kempter, Oliver Bias, Jarvey Gayoso, Matthew Baldisimo and Mark Winhoffer.
China, on the other hand, will be led by winger Wu Lei, and naturalized Brazilian strikers Elkson and Alan.
The Philippines next match is against Guam on June 11, and finally against Maldives on June 15. The Philippines must finish at least second place in Group A if they intend on advancing to the next round. The leaders of each group move on to the next round along with four second placers with the best record. (EKA)