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Azkals gun for strong finish



The national men’s football team will seek to end its season with a bang when it battles Myanmar in its final preliminary match in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Singapore National Stadium on Saturday.

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. (Manila time) with the Azkals eyeing a glorious exit from their week-long elimination campaign in the biggest and most prestigious football tournament in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines is already out of the semifinal contention as it fell short of making it into the top two teams of Pool A.

The Filipino booters are stuck in the third place with a 1-2 win-loss card while Myanmar and Timor Leste are seated in the fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Despite a lopsided 7-0 victory over Timor Leste, the Nationals’ kissed their semis hopes goodbye after suffering identical 1-2 losses to Thailand and Singapore.

Azkals designated head coach Stewart Hall said his wards have nothing to lose and they will definitely go all out in their final match this season.

He said the crew of naturalized forward Bienvenido Marañon and veterans Patrick Reichelt and Kevin Ingreso remain fired up to deliver a stellar performance and pick their second win in four outings.

The squad, however, will miss the services of veteran skipper Stephan Schrock, who has already flown to Germany to attend personal matters.

“Obviously, we want to win the game, we (want) to go two wins and two (losses). We have not qualified so we need to win the game,” Hall said.

But Myanmar is also eyeing a gracious exit in this competitive battle.

Posting an identical 1-2 record with the Philippines, Myanmar mentor Antoine Hey vowed to showcase their best performance against the Filipinos.

The Burmese side is expected to rely on strikers Than Paing and Maung Lwin while goalkeeper Myo Min Latt is tipped to anchor their defensive end.

“We will play Philippines in our next match and we hope for another improved performance and of course another win,” Hey said.

“That’s our plan and that’s what we are doing. We are getting better with every match we play.”