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Young Azkals seek crucial win



The national men’s football team is tipped to go all out when it faces Brunei in its final preliminary game in the AFF U23 Championship at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Cambodia on Sunday.

The young Azkals march to battle at 5 p.m., looking to grab their first win that will boost their chances of making it to the next round of this prestigious regional bootfest.

The Philippines is currently seated third in Group A with one draw and one loss while host Cambodia remains on top with two straight wins.

Timor Leste is in second with four points from a win and a draw while Brunei is in the cellar with back-to-back defeats.

Only the top teams in three groups and the second-place squad in terms of scoring will punch a ticket to the semifinals.

The Filipinos could still have a case for second place should they beat the Bruneians and hope that the Cambodians will prevail over the Timoreses.

Despite being in a tight position, Azkals head coach Stewart Hall said they are willing to gamble their chances just to claim their first win of the tourney.

After all, the young core of skipper Oskari Kekkoken, Ivan Ouano and Sandro Reyes doesn’t want to have another winless campaign like their Asian Cup qualifiers bid last year.

“The boys are in a good frame of mind, so we will be okay,” Hall said following their 0-1 defeat to Cambodia on Thursday.

“Our players are limping off the field (after the Cambodia game) so the first thing that we’re going to do is to get a good recovery.”

“We got to get good food and good rest and get the players ready again for Brunei.”

But beating Brunei is easier said than done.

Despite bombing out of contention after a 1-3 loss to Timor Leste, the lower-ranked Bruneians are raring to end their campaign on a high note by staging an upset against the Philippines.

The Aminuddin Jumad-mentored side is expected to parade the rock-solid crew of Syaherrul Nizam, Hakeme Said and Wafi Aminuddin.