(Rizal Memorial Stadium)
7 p.m. — Philippines vs Nepal
THE PHILIPPINE Azkals return to the Rizal Memorial Stadium pitch against Nepal tonight in an international friendly they intend to use as a jump-off point for a targeted renaissance.
Now under comebacking German coach Michael Weiss, the Pinoy booters are fighting to regain relevance and win back fans after losing luster in the last few years.
For the Azkals, a winning performance in the 7 p.m. matchup with the Gorkhalis should be a good start in this quest.
“The last couple of years weren’t the best time for the Azkals but we’re looking forward to starting a new journey,” said defender Daisuke Sato in yesterday’s pre-match presscon.
Mr. Sato and fellow veterans are reunited with Mr. Weiss, who’s back in the reins after a nine-year absence. The German mentor previously called the shots from 2011 to early 2014 and led the side to the bronze medal in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup held in Nepal.
“I believe with the core players and coach Mr. Weiss, we can achieve some really good things. I also hope the fans come back. I kinda feel we lost connection with the fans a little bit and we want to get it back,” said the Fil-Japanese.
The Azkals are unbeaten in five matches against Nepal since 2011.
The Filipinos won the first four, including a 4-1 victory at home in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in March 2017. However, the Gorkhalis forced the Azkals to a goalless draw in the return match in Kathmandu eight months later.
After Nepal, Mr. Weiss’ troops duke it with Chinese Taipei on Monday, also at Rizal.
The twin friendlies serve as part of the Azkals’ buildup for the joint Asian Cup and Fifa World Cup Qualifiers set later in November. — Olmin Leyba